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April 29th, 2008
10:34 AM ET

They gave him money to fix his house. Now they want it back.

New Orleans residents affected by Katrina may have to pay back the money they were given in grants.
New Orleans residents affected by Katrina may have to pay back the money they were given in grants.

 

Randi Kaye
360° Correspondent

Every time I go to do a story in New Orleans I hold onto a little piece of hope that things are going to be better this time.

That the community is going to be more healed, that the town is going to look more alive, and that the programs put in place to help homeowners are actually doing so.

Well, I should have known better.

Imagine this: Louisiana residents – after all they’ve been through and all they’ve lost – are now being billed by the state for nearly $200 million!

Yes – you read that right, $200 million.

Why? Well – it turns out the contractor hired by the state to dole out federal dollars designed to help homeowners rebuild... uh... well... how do I say this... OVERESTIMATED!!

The contractor, ICF International, may have overpaid as many as 5000 residents. In other words, the state gave these people too much grant money after state inspectors estimated home damages.

In all, homeowners could be asked to pay up $175 million. Some families could be on the hook for $150,000 each!

I interviewed a New Orleans man named John Montegut who had spent about $100,000 repairing his home. About $20,000 of it was from a state grant, part of that federally funded Road Home program to aid homeowners. Well, he just got a bill in the mail for $13,000 from the state telling him they’d overestimated his grant payment.

How’d that happen? Montegut told me the state’s inspector included in his damage claim the repair of six skylights (he doesn’t have any skylights!!) and the replacement of 22 windows which were far above the water levels and completely unharmed. Montegut says the inspector was in his house for five minutes and he was not allowed to see the damage claim so had no way of knowing what was included.

Here’s the killer: Montegut doesn’t have the money to pay the state. He spent that money fixing up his house. But he and every other homeowner who got a grant signed a contract with ICF agreeing to pay money back if overpayments were later discovered. Now remember, he wasn’t even allowed to see his paperwork. Montegut told me he never expected he’d owe the state money. But it turns out the actual cost of repairing his house was far greater than the grant anyway.

The contractor, ICF, told us it is a federally funded program and the state is demanding that it ask for repayments. ICF is promising a “compassionate process” and says it doesn’t expect a large number of families to be affected but we’ve learned from an advocate for the homeowners about 300 families have already been billed. The state plans to fine ICF for its mistakes and it plans to hire an auditor to review every case.

Is it cruel, as homeowners have said, to ask residents for money back after all their suffering following Hurricane Katrina? Or, as resident John Montegut told me, “They (ICF) made mistakes all along, why should people suffer?” What do you think? We'd like to know.

Program Note: See Randi Kaye's “Keeping them Honest” report on AC360 tonight at 10pm.

 

soundoff (601 Responses)
  1. Emily

    The State of Louisiana itself demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars back from people whom the State "overpaid"–at entirely its own discretion–during the first 2 months of Katrina. I know because after having lost everything, 2 full years later I received a notice from the State demanding back monies with the threat of sending the matter to collections. Louisiana and nearly every federal and state agency involved in the Katrina aftermath is simply reprehensible. The federal government should not be "ok" with its people living in trailer homes forever as a result of this natural disaster, nor should our govt. accept the magnitude of New Orleanians who will never return to the once-fantastic city because of its deplorable treatment of the rare and wonderful people who are trying to make the city heal. Shame on Louisiana agencies for neglecting and now harrassing Katrina survivors.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  2. Q

    I really feel bad for Katrina victims like Mr Montegut, HOWEVER, I have lived in Houston for over 12 years now. Crime, and slums go with city life (don't get me started), yet after Houston opened it's arms; subsidized homes, apts, and condos; provided Aid Services (at no charge, on top of the Federal Grants); the Katrina victims who left their homes in ravaged Nola then proceeded to destroy Houston.
    Rapes, breaking/entering, and homicide jumped 200% in the first year they were here. They started shreiking "UNFAIR" when we told them to get a job and pay your own bills – after 1 year and a half of living off our generousity. Some of them broke down and started working, GREAT – no problem. The ones who didn't, though, trashed the free housing they had received before they left.

    I think that, yes, some people probably did get more than they should have, but take a look at what the money went to! Did it go to repair Nola? or did it go to "D-Boy's Rolex and the bling for my baby's momma"? There are many people who should give their money back to the government because they cannot handle money/finances – Mr. Montegut is NOT one of them!!!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  3. charles

    This is very saddening for those hurt by Katrina. I feel the state should be held responsible for the fact is they hired the unqualified idiots to inspect these damaged homes. I myself felt the effects of Hurricane Charlie and when my home was inspected it wasn't even a portion of what it cost to repair. My heart is truly with all of those 300 people affected by this tragedy. I feel the state should suck it up and move forward.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  4. Mike C

    2 million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to what ICF was paid to perform the inspections. Why isn't the company and their executives forced to pay back the 2 million dollars in mistakes that they made.

    Sure, the home owner was probably over paid, but when you loose everything you start rebuilding with the money you have and you base everything off that.

    When will the goverment contractors be held accountable for their mistakes?

    April 29, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    Back in May, 2007 on NOLA.com, it was reported that several of ICF's top executives received huge bonuses the same year they won the contract to administer the Road Home Project. ICF's chairman and CEO received a $1.7 million bonus; the company's COO received a $1 million bonus; and ICF's CFO received a $650,000 bonus.

    So if they screwed up, let their executive officer's give back their bonuses.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  6. frances j.

    So, I'm no brain surgeon, I'm just a regular 41 year old US born Hispanic woman & I'm not even a College graduate. But, I'd like to know why none of our candidates running for President are discussing this?? Why as the current guy in office completely taken this subject off the radar??? The last time he spoke of this he just gave the same speech – "They are slowly coming back", it's too bad the speech is far from REALITY regarding this state. It's ridiculous to me how this country has become so concerned with other nations & nation building (which he stated we'd not do) in lieu of taking care of our own people 1st. I didn't vote for the guy in office now but I hope the next person may do a better job. In reading history I long for a real President who says & actually does work for the entire 50 United States. It is just shameful what these Katrina people have gone thru & now continue to humilate them more. It's just shameful!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Sandie, Minnesota

    I cannot believe how these people have suffered and continue to suffer!! Common decency says that the government waives it's "right" to bill the homeowners for these "overestimates" - and holds the contractor liable to repay the difference. Didn't the state require the contractor to carry Errors & Omissions insurance coverage in the event this kind of thing happened? That's just common practice and, since the homeowners had absolutely nothing to do with those decisions, it's just common sense that the homeowners should not have to return the money.

    Thank you for reporting the story and keeping it in public view. Our country has to figure out how to fix this and never let it happen again!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  8. April

    Here's a novel idea. If the government was going to fine ICF anyway, why not make the fine at least equal to the amount of overpayments. That way ICF bears the burden of its mistakes, rather than the hurricane victims. It is astounding that Miami can be hit by a category 5 hurricane and is rebuilt in less than a year, but years after Katrina, New Orleans is no where near being rebuilt.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  9. Larry

    Just because a contract says it, doesn't mean it's necessarily so. In a situation such as this where an individual has no bargaining power and is forced to sign a contract to get desperately needed help (which should have been provided with no contract), oppressive contract terms such as this are often thrown out by a court, as this clearly should be. Where are New Orlean's public interest lawyers???

    April 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  10. Mark

    "It is beyond me that a country could do that to it’s own people."

    Francie, it sounds like it was a few men who scammed the State, not a country scamming Louisiana residents.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  11. Rebecca

    You know i am so tired of hearing about poor poor New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. I live in Mississippi where the hurricane actually did most of its damage and i dont see anyone feeling sorry for our people. The levies did not hold in New Orleans causing flooding of an area that is below sea level.....big shocker there....what about the other areas of Louisiana that were devistated. All the media ever talks about is New Orleans. Why not talk about entire towns that were completly destroyed and are now back up and running instead of the small parts of New Orleans that are still in ruins because people would rather complain about not getting help than they would help themselves. Katrina happened....that will not change, but if people want to get back on thier feet they will have to work for it. nothing in life is free.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Judy Pennell

    I think the people have been through enough! This has got to be a shock! It isn't their fault the damage was over estimated. Shouldn't we give the people of the U.S. some help without expecting a repayment?We certainly give enough money to other countries, not to mention forgiving debt.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  13. john

    i haven't heard of any of you guys setting up a fund to help katrina victims... all america is anymore is a bunch of pissers and moaners. people have complained about the iraq war for 6 years and what has it been solved? complained about the destruction of new orleans and is it rebuilt? moaned and groaned about bush being president and has he been impeached? if you want to really make a change, get off your lazy duff and do something about it.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  14. bitterjack

    I used to live in Louisiana. The way the state government is acting is par for the course. The over the top corrupt state officials do everything they can to fleece everyone, especially the residents of Louisiana, for every single red american cent they can.
    The tragedy of Katrina just made it aware to the nation just how poorly Louisiana residents are treated by their politicians.
    I haven't notice very many stories like this in Mississippi or Alabama.......

    April 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  15. Lesley

    Having been through the actual process from beginning to end, I find it difficult to believe this gentleman didn't find something fishy about the numbers he was given. By the time you deal with ICF, you've already had the insurance mumbo jumbo dished out. The people actually working with claimants were trying to do their best, but they were often rushed. In the end, we were told where to sign but when we tried to ask about "pay back if" language, we were told, "don't worry, it will never happen". The Feds, the State, the workers have all tried to do what's right, with a lot of speed bumps and mistakes. The biggest mistake of all is hiring a 'for profit" company to manage the process. Somehow bonuses paid out on the backs of other people's misery don't make sense. Am I surprised some people may have gotten more than they should? No. Unfortunately early in the process, standing in line just days after the storms, I realized first hand greed was left behind with the other damage left behind by Katrina and Rita.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Dave

    Has no one stopped to think that they should make ICF International repay the money???? After all it was thier mistake. How can you ask someone who has lost EVERYTHING to repay what they obviously do not have?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  17. Debbie

    Once again the little people suffer. The government made a mistake, the people used the money to fix thier homes and have now become tax paying citizens of New Orleans once again . As long as they can prove they spent the money on the house, why not just forget it. Penny wise and pound foolish again, or should I say still? Does the governmetn og after contractors tha tcharge them a grand for a toilet seat? Bet not.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  18. Stacy (Leesburg, VA)

    Randi,

    I appreciate your optimism in the beginning, but the reality is just baffles the mind. It is amazing, yet not surprising, how incompetent our government (be it local, regional, state, or federal) really is. It truly is a model of bureaucratic balderdash. Billing the devastated homeowners for their profound idiocy just goes to show that government lacks the fundamental compassion dictated in the United States Constitution (promote the general welfare anyone?). It is unconscionable that these incompetent pencil pushers should even think about billing people who lost everything, but some bean counter thought it was a “good idea”. I don’t think anyone in this country really wants to hear anymore “good ideas” from our representatives. It is the same ‘pass the buck, darn the luck” speech that we have received for the past 20 years. Oh Harry Truman, where are you when we need you? Thanks for the story Randi, you guys are on top of it.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  19. Chris

    Come on. If there are mistakes in the estimate then the money should go back. If you mistakenly overpay your phone bill because you are hurried or in the middle of a tragedy you would expect to get your money back when you realized the mistake – right?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  20. Celeste

    Thank God that 360 is still on the trail on the aftermath of this horrendous situation. What an insult to the good folks of Louisana who are trying (with limited assistance, I might add) to bring some type of normalcy back into their lives. I hope ICF

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  21. Mike

    Oh, come on now. No one is going to be forced to repay money that was supposed to come to them. It's just where people took more than they needed that repayments will be demanded.

    Apparently all you have to do is tell CNN the repair cost was "far greater" than the grant and you are instantly a victim. I'm not going to believe any of this until I see actual contractor bills. If they can show that, then it's a tragedy (or they were robbed by carpetbagging contractors). Until then though, wait for some more information before crying for the Montegut.

    And remember, this request for repayment isn't coming from the evil Republicans in the White House, it's coming from all the Democrats in Baton Rouge.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  22. Cheryl

    I have only one comment to make. We paid millions of dollars to the widows of 9-11, but somehow the people of New Orleans is different??? Can someone explain this please because to me it is most definitely discrimination.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  23. Michael

    So lets get this straight: people took money for repairs they knew were false, and now are complaining that they have to give it back? Its a crime to withdraw money from a bank account when you know it is not yours, this is no different.

    And as well: am I supposed to feel sorry for some guy who got money to repair his 22 second floor windows? Any one who's home's second floor contains 22 windows sounds like their doing well enough to give back the money they essentially stole from the governement....

    Further to that: they all should have read the contract stipulating they would have to pay back overages.....because you were too inept to read the contract does not release you from your obligations under it.

    no sympathy here.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  24. Davis

    Enforcement of those contracts would be unconscionable.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  25. Millie Bea

    Mes Chers,

    Someone made money off this one- and in Louisana and New Orleans, this is a way of life for politicians and the prominent business man. I think that the Feds woul be wise to drop thier very important steriods investigation and start tracking -find the estimators, see if that paperwork was fudged, then go to the estimator's boss and see if it was fudged there- in other words- find the errors, then you will will have the error-makers and then you can hold them responsible- not the poor slob trying to get his life back together. And then tell the politicians in Louisana that if that doesn't work, the Feds will go after them and their holdings because of their lousy stewardship of the project. As they always say- Follow The Money.....

    April 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  26. Amber

    This is completely and utterly ridiculous, I believe that the State made the mistake; the State can eat the cost of their mistake. At least these victims used to money to rebuild. They could have taken the money and split. Sounds like that’s what they should have done if you ask me. But who am I???????

    April 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  27. Gunny0261

    Seems to me that if the contractor, ICF International, overpaid as many as 5000 residents, then the state needs to collect its refund from ICF International. ("your stupidity does not make it MY problem...")

    Also sound like there should be a COLLOSAL class-aciton suit against the state and ICF International, and a complete audit of ICF books, to see exactly how much and where state money comes and goes...

    I'd imagine that the state and ICF would probably LOVE to pay only 1 point 75 mil, instead of...say...$1hundred 75 Mil.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  28. Jonathan

    If I read the article correctly, the state is asking for money based on the differences between what their inspector suggested and what ICF paid out. If the state inspector overestimated, as was the case with Mr. Montegut, then why is he responsible? He still spent way more in overall repairs anyway. It's not like he went on vacation with the extra money. How is it overpayment if it wasn't even enough? This might be way off base, but it seems like the state is trying to take back all the dollars that didn't come from the Federal Government. LA's government seems to be a true confederacy of dunces.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  29. Johnny Trigg

    Well the free ride has ended, people who pay no insurance want the Rich Uncle Sam to come to their rescue, well that "Uncle " is flat broke and the "people" need to understand that and once again become the people this country was built on,,,AMERICANS for AMERICA, AND STOP NURCING OFF A DRY TITT. WORK WORK AND MAKE THIS COUNTRY GROW FROM THE SWEAT OF ITS PEOPLE,,,,

    April 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  30. Dan

    Time out. Has America completely gotten rid of personal resonsibility? The signed contracts that said they would be on the hook and it sounds like at least some of them knew in advance that the estimates were wrong. But they signed the deals, took the money, and are now complaining after the work is done. I could feel more compassionate if they complained before they took the money (which would have made a great CNN story then), but after all we've done to pour money into what is arguably the most corrupt culture in America, I have to confess that my patience and sense of compassion is wearing thin. What is next, people complaining about getting good deals on mortgages and then wanting the government to bail them out? Oh. Um. Wait.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  31. Ken

    First, I believe there has been more corruption and over payments for this "force of nature." All payouts should be reviewed by some indepent third person that could hopefully determine what was underpaid, properly paid, and overpaid (I'm just not sure this is possible this late). Then the "underpaid" should be compensated and the "overpaid" held liable. It appears these "overpayments" warrant this third party review.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  32. Alan, Virginia

    ...and the government thought that mortgage lending was crooked! At least when you sign mortgage documents you get copies to keep. In this case, where the grantor is withholding legal documents, how can you enforce something upon the grantee? To make it fair, I would simply ask for receipts, and if the grantee has receipts for proper repair items in excess of the grant monies paid, leave them alone. At least these people are being pro-active in rebuilding. Those who do not have proper receipts should stand to payback at least some of the difference. If the state does not recover the $2 million, oh well. $2 million should not break the state coffers...it is simply not that much money when you are referring to a whole city.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  33. Kathy

    Ok, there were six skylights that didn't exist and 22 windows that didn't need repaired on that estimate that added to the $20,000 grant total for that one homeowner. But the homeowner spent $100,000 repairing his home, so it stands to reason that there were things that were not on that estimate that should have been. Instead of sending out an arbitrary bill, it seems to me that new – correct – estimates need to be done based on the repair work that was actually done.

    This deal sounds like a half-baked solution to the problem and it also sounds a little fishy, to me.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  34. BASS-PISCATOR

    Let's see. The government gave these people too much money and now it wants it back. And you people are crying about it. Well let me tell you, the government doesn't have any money. Its MY money and I want it back. Personally, I don't think they should have gotten any of MY money at all. If you think so, then give them some of YOUR money. I'm sick and tired of everyone thinking they can take MY money and spend it however they like. The people of NO are not victims, they're idiots. Only idiots would live below sea-water protected by leaky dikes.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  35. Karen Heard

    OUTRAGIOUS!!.......If America keeps treating its own like this we wont have to worry about immigration problems.....because no one will want to come here! We will no longer be considered a great place to live.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  36. J.S.

    Knowing that the estimator spent only 5 minutes in your home and then signing a contract agreeing to pay back any overcompensations after being refused a copy or even a viewing of the estimates seems kind of ill-thought out at the least... and even after signing such documents, to use every penny of the refund and not prepare for the fact that you might actually be required to do as the contract says... I really don't know what to say.
    NOT expect to pay the government? Maybe I am from Mars, but I would expect most people to rather expect to have to deal with MORE government bulls**t sooner or later. After all, I'm pretty sure that they won't be on anyones Christmas card list these days.
    Lots of worse things have happened because people 'expect' and 'assume.' If you signed the dotted line, pay your dues.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  37. Troy

    I worked there as a Catastrophe Adjuster after Katrina. And this does not suprise me in the least.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  38. Lisa

    This is disgusting. Halliburton overcharged the government millions of dollars in Iraq, and the Pentagon decided to not pursue getting that money back, but our government continues to pursue individuals in this insane way when they feel they have too much. Instead of billing these people for this money, they should be given MORE help to rebuild their homes and their businesses. I want to know exactly what the millions of dollars from the government and various aid agencies did in NO anyways, considering the lack of progress and the thousands of people who still do not have the basic necessities of life there.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  39. Crystal

    I am a college student, and went to NOLA this past March on spring break with my school to help rebuild from Katrina. It is sad the amount of devestation, almost 3 years later. To send a bill for $13,000 is ridiculous, and absurd. Most of America has forgotten about the Gulf Coast, and most of the volunteers are either students, AmeriCorps, or Churches. After all the terrible mistakes the government made in the aftermath of Katrina, and Rita, they should be ashamed of themselves. NOLA itself has lost 60% of it's population. It's just sad.

    Thank you, for showing that the Gulf Coast, especially NOLA still needs more help. There is so much aid that the residents still haven't received. I know that I'm going back down in January and in March 2009. I hope more people go down to volunteer. And if not to raise a hammer, for tourism. Some thing to help their economy. God knows that the government is doing anything to help them; they only make it worse.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  40. Tina

    The Road Home Program was way too flawed to begin with. Initially few people even knew the program existed – those who did were those who were SHOPPING for these federal grants. There are a good number of folks – home suffered little but wind damage, but ended up getting more than $120K from the Road Home Program. I hope those cheating fools are the ones hit w/ the bill! Unfortunately, those who are in sincere need are those who are denied! My parents home flood every time it DRIZZLES, and the program denied my parents an IOTA to fix our home.

    The sad part is that most of the allocated money is still available, but the application process to truly help those who need it is way too complicated and flawed!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  41. Tom C.

    As with every story related to Katrina there is more than one person to blame. The families that signed the paperwork without reviewing the estimate, ICF for hiring people that didn't care what happened to these families and the state for not putting in place competent oversight. The repayment of this money should be covered by all three groups. ICF should cover the cost for every home where they included items that were obviously not required. i.e. non existent skylights, windows above the water line, ... The state should cover 3/4's of the remainder and the families the remainder. Harsh? When you think about how we as individuals have quit taking responsibility for our decissions I would say no it's not harsh at all.

    The unfortunate part of this is that the remainder of the tax payers in the state are going to get stuck again wiht a bill that they should not have a part of.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  42. Lynn

    How are you going to sign something that states you will owe your hard earned cash if incorrect without looking at the document first? Yes, it is sad, but at some point someone somewhere is going to have to take responsibility.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  43. Gregg Langefeld

    I'm not going be judgmental. There seems to be somehting missing here. If we have the funds to keep our soldiers overseas then we better damn well take care of our own backyard before we start cleaning up others. It just amazes me everyone looks to the homeowner for everyone's screw ups. What about the contractor, ICF International. They are the ones that over estimated. They are supposed to be the experts. Have they stepped up to the plate and offered anything? What about their insurance company? Not saying they should be perfect but I think they don't have a good system if it takes this long to find out they over paided people. The homeowners should be able to keep it considering the hell they went through. This country was built on the United We Stand concept. How long to we have wait to start practicing what we preach? Just an after thought. Let the contractor give back part of the profit they made ove this event. Not sure how the sleep at night. Sure know I couldn't.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  44. Steve Smith

    My wife and I just returned from New Orleans yesterday for a four-day visit. I've been there two times before, in 1994 and 2000, but only briefly. The people there were wonderful to us. The city is a treasure. Katrina exposed the lousy and almost criminal state and city government, and the just as terrible Homeland Security Dept. This latest outrage, and the entire Katrina experience is this – if your town or city is hit with a disaster like this, you're on your own. The little guy has to clean up the mess themselves. On our trip we kept on saying, 'If this was a foriegn country the U.S. would have treated New Orleans better.' Sad to say it looks like we were right.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  45. Vanest

    So now more tax dollars are going to auditors to check ICF's work?

    Since homeowners where not privy to the appraisers paperwork, the burden should not be on the homeowners after the fact. Instead of the state insisting ICF collect excess grant money, it should sue ICF for negligence and collect through its insurance coverage. The suit should include overestimation costs and fees to outside auditors to determine the extent of this malpractice.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  46. Chris

    Ridiculous.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  47. Jim

    Ok, call me totally "selfish", but why are we giving people money to rebuild in a city that is completely below sea level and at complete risk for suffering a similar reoccurrence of flooding should another hurricane happen to cross paths with it again? There should be some assumed risk, in all of this not blind faith in the government, and the rest of the tax payers to bail them out in times of trouble.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  48. Angela

    Typical. I cannot admire enough the people who returned to New Orleans and continue to put up with the crap that every level of government has thrown at them. It's a special place, but the price for living there continues to rise.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
  49. Jacque

    O and the Road Home didn't make any mistakes its the people that they hired to give estimates on the property they were to lazy to do their job and should be looked into. Also the homeowners probably had alot to do with getting higher estimates. Making the estimator feel sorry for them I've already seen it happen. The estimator usually gave more because it wasn't their money going to the homeowner. They have everything to do with these homeowners getting more money I would bet my life on it.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
  50. Shawna

    Considering that the homeowers weren't allowed to see the paperwork prior to submission and the contracted company obviously didn't comply with basic standards for accuracy (spending only a few minutes in a house and including elements not present in the home like skylights in the estimate), I'd say the state needs to release the homeowners from repayment. The state needs to accept that the company contracted to handle the process was grossly fraudulent and go after that company for the payment. Also, any remainder, the state should eat because the state obviously didn't perform adequate vetting and oversight of the company. If I was a homeowner having to spend $100k to repair damages to my home, I would consider a $20k grant to be inadequate and wouldn't have even considered the amount could ever be an UNDERpayment. It's not the homeowners' fault – it's the state's fault.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
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