"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."
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.