NEW ORLEANS – The Legislature’s joint Hurricane Recovery Committee responded to a WWL-TV story this week by vowing to address Road Home collection letters at its meeting Monday at 5 p.m. at City Hall’s City Council Chambers.
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell told Eyewitness News on Monday that she wanted the committee to take up the issue of homeowners who followed the Road Home rules, got grants six and seven years ago and are now getting letters demanding repayment of thousands of dollars.
On Wednesday, committee members Rep. Neil Abramson, Sens. Ed Murray and J.P. Morrell, all from New Orleans, said they had put the issue on their agenda and invited state Office of Community Development Director Pat Forbes to provide staff to address homeowners’ concerns one-on-one.
It’s a state legislative committee, so anyone who got a Road Home collection letter can come, regardless of what town their damaged property is in.
Our story this week gave examples of homeowners who could document that the demand letters were incorrect and felt intimidated by the letters. Others told us they were just going to pay the money even though they disagreed. Others said they relied on the money as a grant and never knew they might have to pay a portion of it back so many years later.
Cantrell said she believed the former Road Home contractor, ICF International, was to blame.
The state has sent ICF a demand for $68.4 million and has tallied $77.8 million in errors by ICF to date, but ICF is telling homeowners who say program calculations were wrong that it’s not their problem anymore.
ICF was replaced as program administrator in mid-2009.