Real People Hurricane Relief

Real People Relief is for individuals, families and groups who wish to help a person or family directly, with no "middle man" "Be The Change" Ghandi "I pray that I may not be tempted, by indifference or selfishness to withhold from others the help I have received." Author Unknown to me

Sunday, October 29, 2006

NOLA Road Home Experience

11/17 Article
Grant requests by phone now OK
Administrators seek to reduce worries Thursday, November 09, 2006 By Coleman Warner
Facing intense pressure from Gov. Kathleen Blanco to speed the processing of Road Home rebuilding grants, administrators of the high-profile assistance program announced Wednesday that homeowners can complete their applications by phone. The change takes effect immediately.
"We want to ensure that all eligible homeowners are able to apply, regardless of their comfort in accessing the Internet or filling out a paper application, " said Mike Byrne, the program's chief administrator. The new procedure resulted from a suggestion Sen. Ann Duplessis, D-New Orleans, made during a recent legislative hearing and is intended to help homeowners overcome their anxiety about providing information on a form that alludes to harsh penalties against anyone found guilty of fraud, said Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Andy Kopplin. The LRA sets policy for the Road Home program and urged the procedural change, which had to be carried out by the contractor ICF International.
"People are very cautious about what information they put down on an application because they're nervous," Kopplin said.
With the change, homeowners can complete an application by calling 1 (888) ROAD-2-LA. Program staff members will fill out applications for the homeowners and help set up appointments with advisers at one of 11 centers in Louisiana or at a 12th scheduled to open Nov. 16 in Houston. The phone lines will be open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Officials reported during a Louisiana Recovery Authority meeting on Monday that Blanco has ordered administrators of the Road Home effort to approve rebuilding money for 10,000 storm-damaged families by the close of November. The program has a backlog of nearly 79,000 applications.
Officials said that as of Monday, they have held 19,356 application appointments and calculated 1,721 grant awards, with a total of $110.3 million in benefits calculated. The average award was $67,908. Financed with $7.5 million in federal money, the program compensates homeowners damaged by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita last year for uninsured losses of up to $150,000.
But gearing up the program has taken months, and many homeowners have complained about long waits for an appointment.
A news release said the Road Home program is adding hundreds of appointment slots in coming days at assistance centers and that homeowners who already have scheduled meetings in December or later may be able to get the appointment moved up by calling the toll-free number. In a previous move to expedite the filing of applications for the grant assistance, officials dropped a requirement that homeowners list the cash value of other assets, including checking and savings accounts, stocks and life insurance.

Letters From the Road Home
We’re looking for Road Home stories here at Think New Orleans.
Michael Homan has been blogging about his Road Home experience. The math has been confusing, but answers have been a phone call away. The rough bits are all owning to Allstate.
What are your experiences with the Road Home? Good, bad?
Sincerely, Alan Gutierrez

The LRA process: One applicant's experience
02:23 PM CST on Sunday, October 29, 2006
Mikel Schaefer / Executive Producer WWL-TV
If you're one of the thousands waiting to meet face to face with representatives from the Road Home Program and you're wondering just what you're in for, here it is.

Like many of you, I suffered damage from Katrina and signed up for the Road Home Program. I filled out my application online and recently received a letter to make an appointment to come to one of their 10 registration offices in the state. One very important note, if you registered, that's not the same as applying, so make sure you fill out an application either online or on paper and send it in.

They offered an October 31 appointment in Kenner but anxious to get the process moving, I asked them if there was something sooner at another location and they offered me a 2pm appointment on October 19 at their office on Poydras Street downtown. I saved two weeks by being flexible about the location.

Here's a timeline about how the process went for me.

1:40pm - I arrived at 1555 Poydras Street and inside the downstairs lobby there was a table with literature on the program. I introduced myself and they checked the list of appointments and after finding my name, someone escorted me to the 9th floor. I asked if they had been busy and the representative said the day before they saw about 100 people but around 25 had postponed their meeting.

After getting off of the elevator there was an NOPD officer at a desk outside the office and he checked my license against the appointments before letting me inside.

I walked to the reception desk just steps from the officer and they again checked my I.D. with the appointments. They gave me some documents to sign explaining their privacy policy and an authorization to release some information. The room had about 37 people in it with a steady stream of people moving in and out of the reception room.

There was a plastic play table with puzzles and blocks for children. I realized I didn't bring anything to read so I just casually looked over the shoulder of a woman reading a magazine from New York. I was thinking of asking her if she had something I could borrow to read, but decided not to.

2:13pm - A man periodically comes out and calls someone's name who walks into another room and sits in front of a cubicle before he/she returns to their seat. I'm not sure what is done inside of there because I really can't see what's taking place, but I figure that's my first stop.

2:15pm - The man calls my name and after walking into the room I sat down and they took my picture and scanned my thumbprint.

The one thing that struck me is how cordial everyone had been up to then, very polite and businesslike. I told the woman sitting next to me, "people are pleasant."

She said, "you don't mind waiting if people don't have an attitude."

2:23pm - The New Orleans Police Officer opens the door for a man coming in with a walker, right then my counselor comes in behind them and calls my name, introduces herself and said she's going to make this as "painless as possible."

2:37pm - We walked out of the reception area past the elevators and down a hall to her office. My counselor asked for my username and password that you get when you apply online and she used it to call up my application making sure I answered all the questions correctly.
2:44pm - She printed up and I signed the home evaluation work sheet. This is to have someone come to my home to inspect my home. She says to call her back if I don't hear from someone in two weeks.

2:58pm - She explains that the process to get any money will take 60-to-90 days. She can't give me any idea of how much money I could qualify for, that will be done after the home inspection and they take into consideration money I've received from sources like FEMA and insurance.

She also explained that if I do qualify for some assistance that when I return the most money I will get at that time will be 10-20% of the award and will get the rest later. She also said when they evaluate how much money to give out against your losses they estimate on basic needs and won't calculate a number based on high priced items such as granite countertops or expensive kitchen or bath accessories. She then took some of the documents I brought like insurance payments and a recent appraisal of my home to be scanned onto a disk so the evaluator will have the information he/she needs to come up with a dollar figure.

3:11pm - Since my wife couldn't be with me for this visit, I have to call my counselor back in a week and let her know when she can come in to get her picture and thumbprint taken.

3:20pm - The meeting was done and she gave me all of my documents and a copy of the CD they scanned all of my documents onto. She said the next step in the process would be hearing from someone to check out the damage on my house.

The process was relatively painless. I would make sure to bring as many documents you have on your home so in the event they need them, then the process doesn't get delayed any longer than it has to. Do not forget your I.D. since they checked mine just three times before the process began.

Wednesday October 25th:

I received a call around 9:25am from the home evaluator saying he could be at my house this morning to take pictures and take notes. I agreed to meet him around 10:15am so he could get the information he needs. I was lucky to have the time to meet him on such short notice. Flexibility again can work in your favor to get through this process.

When he showed up at my house the first thing he did was take a picture of me in front of my house as a way of identifying the house with me like having my thumbprint on file. He explained he would take pictures and take notes on the damage at my home. He will then send the information to a Road Home evaluator who will use the information in conjunction with all the money I've received for the house so far. That evaluator will come up with an answer to whether I qualify for any assistance.

He said if I don't hear from anyone in two weeks to check back with my counselor to see what's the latest.


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