"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."
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
It’s been just over four months since attorney Barry Domingue committed suicide the morning before he was to stand trial for a second day in the federal Curious Goods case, leaving his fellow attorney/co-defendant Daniel Stanford with a temporary mistrial and awaiting his day in court.
Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram isn't letting a humbling start to his pro career lower his opinion of what he can still accomplish in the NFL.
Phoenix flooding stuns residents; Gaza truce talks collapse, NFL vets defy age label and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.
A state judge Friday refused a temporary injunction sought against state education officials in an effort to block implementation of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana.
UL was the consensus pick in a coaches' preseason poll to win the league, and experience has a lot to do with that.
The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal's hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is under scrutiny for billing private chartered planes to her Senate office when she used the flights to attend campaign fundraisers.