NEW ORLEANS - It's three weeks from the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the Road Home program is still not completed.
Thousands of properties have yet to be transferred to Orleans and St. Bernard parishes to get them sold or re-used.
The city of New Orleans is responsible for the ones that have been transferred to them and the remaining properties are maintained by the Louisiana Land Trust.
“There's people around this area that want these spaces. It's just a matter of when are you gonna let ‘em go? And what's the wrangling all about,” asked Kebori Denson, a Lakeview resident.
His half double is just about surrounded by Road Home home lots.
“Paying to maintain these lots just because you're waiting to get the highest price or the highest bid,” Denson said.
The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority or NORA is handling the properties for the city.
They've held four auctions so far, but only sold a few hundred of the thousands of Road Home properties that the state will transfer to them.
“All the money from the properties that have sold basically have gone into a restricted account and over time, those funds will be drawn down for the maintenance of those properties,” said Jeff Hebert, Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.
So far the Louisiana Land Trust has spent $76 million maintaining all the Road Home properties state-wide with an additional $87 million spent to demolish the flooded homes and remove the slabs.
The LLT is the agency created to handle them after the 2005 storms.
“I think everyone involved underestimated the complexity of what we're doing and the scope of it,” said Michael Taylor, Executive Director of the Louisiana Land Trust.
The LLT's original budget was $195 million, now it's topped $220 million. Taylor said he had hoped to have all the properties transferred to the parishes and on their way to redevelopment last year. But with the Road Home program still closing on some of them it's taking longer than expected.
“What they're down to now is the hardest of the hard cases to work with,” Taylor said.
There are about 150 open Road Home cases left. But they're about to take on another new and unexpected mission dealing with the "option one" properties whose owners took money to rebuild but never did.