"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."
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.