"But it has stirred something close to despair among some Louisiana residents, who were already bemoaning the sluggish way the program has given out the money it does have; only 22,000 families statewide, out of 140,000 applicants, have received grants so far, for a total of $1.3 billion."
Something "close" to despair? Consider the case of New Orleans' Basin Street Records' founder Mark Samuels, who's been chronicling his Road Home trials on the Basin Street Records Web site. He was flooded out of his Canal Street office, and his Lakeview home also flooded, but Samuels chose to gut the first floor of his house and live on the second floor. Here's what Samuels wrote in a late January entry:
Sept 21: 2 hour meeting with Road Home program advisor.
October 9th: Inspection at my home.
Jan 3rd: finally received grant award letter (I expected $115,000-$150,000 but letter says my grant award will be $43,000.)
Jan 4th: after 30 minutes on hold got cut off when they transferred me to an advisor to discuss my concerns (as the grant letter suggested). Called back and left a message on an answering machine that said my call would be returned within 2 days.
Jan 5th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 8th: called and left message on an answering machine (after first getting cut off)
Jan 9th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 10th: called and left message on an answering machine (after first getting cut off)
Jan 11th: called and left message on an answering machine (after first getting cut off)
Jan 12th: Ditto
Jan 15th: Ditto
Jan 16th: Ditto
Jan 17th: Ditto, but I also sent them a letter.
Jan 18th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 18th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 22nd: Ditto
Jan 22nd: Ditto
Jan 23rd: Ditto
Jan 24th: Called and spoke to Monica, yea! She told me that they received my letter and that I should expect a revised grant award letter. However, the revised numbers only addressed one of my concerns and I asked her to review the calculations again. As we were wrapping things up, my connection (perhaps my cell phone) ended. I called right back and got through again! I was not allowed to speak to Monica again, but I spoke to Ewell, who was able to confirm that Monica had input the information that I should expect a new calculation, and that another inspector would call me to come out to the house. He was not able to tell me when that might happen. Congratulations Governor Blanco. ... I am home (in the upstairs of my house and have caught two rats so far in the gutted downstairs), but if my appeal doesn't result in a lot more grant money, I am about to decide to leave again.
Samuels told The Independent last week that he still hasn't received his Road Home funds. "If the Road Home program isn't fully funded, Gov. Blanco needs to figure out how to take care of the promise she made and get us our money, or businesses like ours are going to fold or leave," he says. "I had a meltdown with Road Home on March 29 and broke into tears on the phone. I told the rep, 'I have three talented children in the city. I'm going to leave if I don't have my money before the end of the school year. I'm not going to live another year like we did this year, with no furniture, cooking in a microwave and a toaster oven.'
"The next day I got a phone call from a Road Home rep who was very helpful," continues Samuels. "I sent her a bunch of additional photographs, and she told me she's done what she needed to do so I can now get the full $150,000 award amount. But it's now two months later, and I haven't gotten a letter or any more calls ' nothing. And I'm one of the fortunate ones who can conduct his business on a computer, and can spend time e-mailing and calling Road Home constantly. I can't imagine what it's like for someone who's in Jackson and has to work a 10-hour job.
"I love New Orleans and I really don't want to leave, but I feel like I need to take a stand," says Samuels. "I don't know what that might be ' maybe shutting the doors to my business for a few months, or staging a hunger strike on the steps of the Capitol. I don't know what I'm going to do."
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."
For the sixth consecutive year, Andy Nyman, LSU associate professor of wetland wildlife management, and his service-learning students plan to spend spring break differently from those students flooding the beaches of Florida.
When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed in what would become the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
The legislation — House Bill 503 by state Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport — passed by an 8-5 vote and advances next to the full House.
The Republican Party of Louisiana has had enough with the philandering hypocrite Vance McAllister. David Vitter? Eh...
A top aide to a Louisiana congressman videotaped kissing a married woman who is not his wife was one of the few people with access to the leaked security footage that exposed the dalliance.
Louisiana would repeal an unconstitutional state law prohibiting intercourse between two people of the same sex, if lawmakers agree to a bill that narrowly received the backing of a House committee Wednesday.