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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. ceci

    I'd say the homeowners who are being billed under such conditions...need legal representation.

    And ICF needs to be sued for the money.

    This is America – not Russia. We don't have to sign for something we don't get to read.

    Let the lawyer for the homeowners explain this to ICF and our stupid government.

    Man this gets my skirt in a bunch!

    Oh yeah! and then the homeowners need to sue for pain and suffering from the harrassment of being put through this wringer!

    April 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  2. Ross

    Couldn't get past the 3rd paragraph. As a former journalist now working for a recovery program in Louisiana, I have a bit of a unique perspective on this article. First of all, you and everyone reading this have NO idea how much fraud there really is. Look, the federal government created a 10 BILLION dollar aid program. Essentially, this program, Road Home, provides free grants to homeowners to get them back into their damaged or destroyed houses. 10 BILLION. Do you really think, that when the government decides to hand out that much money, that people will not come out of hte woodwork to try to rip the program off? Do you really think that?

    Typical response from someone who has never worked in Louisiana for a significant amount of time. There is a problem there the country fails to understand. Look these folks were hit hard and we all want to help them. But the reality is, and I know what I'm talking about, is that a lot of folks down there play the victim card with regard to EVERYTHING. Many people fail to understand the difference between eligibility for help, and entitlement. There is a widespread sense of entitlement in New Orleans- that the rest of the country "owes" them something- basically our tax dollars.

    The fact is that it should surprise no one that out of $10 BILLION, 2 million is being recouped due to fraud or other problems. That's like 2% of the aid money.

    Do some research.

    April 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  3. Lazonia

    I am not surprise but disgusted with the entire system from the mayor's office of New Orleans to the white house. When ICF was constantly asking for more money, why questions were not asked instead just giving ICF more money. Now we are being victimized again, and I am pretty sure we will be victimized again. When will it END?!

    April 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  4. DAVID COX

    As a Level 3 Real Property appraiser, I went over all of my inspections and evaluations with the property owner; made my appraisal determination and again shared that result with the owner before I turned it in to the State. After submitting my appraisal, the owner had one more opportunity to refute my evaluation, and appeal for another appraiser to re evaluate the property- this would become finalized. Now that is what is fair and reasonable as all citizens were treated with the same respect, irregardless of where they lived, or their finacial condition.

    April 29, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  5. k

    And people wonder why Jeremiah Wright made the statments about America.........

    April 29, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  6. Denise

    Is it terrible that this mistake happened? Yes.
    Is it terrible that the State is asking that the overpayments be returned?

    No.

    If these people were small business owners and they found that their accountant had overpaid all of their employees they would have no problem demanding they get that money back. Or if they overpaid on their taxes, they would insist that the IRS pay them back. This is no different. Trying to turn this into another "poor Katrina victims" story clouds the real issue. The money that was overspent on some families probably left other families short on grant money. What about those "poor families"? Once they get the money back it will go into new grants for more construction - it's not like it's going into some greedy corporate CEO's vacation fund!

    You would think these people would have figured out by now that the government of New Orleans (State and Local) do not have the best interest of the people at heart and demanded to read everything they have to sign.

    Then again, these people are insisting on rebuilding a devastated city below sea level in a hurricane zone with levees that still leak. If they will be able to get flood insurance at all it is likely going to be more than the average family can afford, so the next hurricane that comes through is leave these people right back where they are now.

    Their judgment is questionable to begin with.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  7. Megan

    This disgusts me. The company that did the estimates that weren't signed by the victims should pay all restitution. As if these people havent been through enough now this....how dare we talk about third world countries and how they are so awful when we do this to our own citizens!!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  8. Jane

    Katrina is a sad story. I wish people would have and could have gotten out of the city when the hurricane was moving in. But it did happen that way. I am sure I do not have a popular opinion of the event, but I did not believe in the federal government bailing out a state government because it had not taken proper precautions (knowing they are in a hurricane area). I fear a precedent that could lead to states not paying for these precautions and assuming the federal government would bail them out when needed.

    That being said, I find it appalling that the victims who were given money to rebuild their homes and lives and could have some taken away due to an error in the contractor's estimate. That burden should rest on the state, not the people who desperately need the money.

    I hope that the light that CNN has shed on this issue puts pressure on the state to not take money away from these people. If the state and federal governments force these people to pay back the overestimated money, the country has truly lost the values on which it was founded.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  9. Kathy

    I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that I filed for my Road Home grant the first day the opportunity was made available and needless to say, after many unproductive telephone calls to ICF, much aggravation, and the submission of each and every document they asked for, I received my small grant in October of 2007. At no time were we allowed to speak to anyone who knew anything at all at ICF regarding our application, and we were not allowed to see any paperwork. It was a nightmare of misinformation time and again on their part, and I believe an impossible task to award a grant properly when the person receiving it had no access to the paperwork or could even discuss the details of how ICF arrived at that figure. If a mistake was made after working on a file for almost two years, it's not the grant recipient's fault. Any fraud should be investigated, but innocent grant recipients who ultimately became the victims of the shoddy work of the The Road Home program should not be held accountable. We have suffered through enough. I have handled enough paperwork to last a lifetime and jumped through so many hoops that I'm dizzy. Shame on the federal government also for not relaxing the standards of the Stafford Act. Hurricane Katrina was no ordinary disaster. I sincerely hope for the sake of the victims of our future disasters that the Stafford Act is adjusted to fit the size of the disaster and the needs of the people.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  10. Becky

    Why does it seem like the contractor overestimated on purpose by not letting people read the inspections and making them sign an agreement for repayment if there are mistakes? Did the mansion-owners in the California burnings have to pay back? Why does it seem like everytime I read an article about Katrina the government is always too little, too late for the people there but yet they are very responsive and helpful elsewhere. I'm an average, white female not from the south and even I can recognize the discrimination.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Jessica

    This is a great story, and a big tragedy for the people of New Orleans yet again. But do you think you could manage to report without using exclamation points like a 12-year-old girl!!??!! It kind of takes away from the gravity of the situation.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  12. Jessica

    Being originally from the New Orleans area and knowing how poorly the city operates, the fact that they are now billing residents doesn't surprise me at all. Keep in mind the scores of residents who were billed by the electric company for the time period after the storm when their homes were under 22 feet of water and the power was not operational! I have no doubt that this situation will find its way into a court room where i hope the people of New Orleans prevail and do not have to pay back monies to a city that can't manage finances properly to begin with. The people of that great city deserve to have their homes as well as the city itseld rebuilt, maybe we should be investigating the city to see what they have done with relief funds and other donations that we can plainly see haven't been used to fix anything at all instead of picking on residents who are trying to get on with their lives.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  13. Kim

    This is so sad. After everything these folks had to endure, another agency wants their money back. let's not forget, these people also had to pay taxes on this so called grant to the IRS!! How can you rebuild your home and your life and still owe the system that was supposedly designed to help you?!!!! What a JOKE our government is!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  14. Debra-Reno

    I have worked with FEMA before on a diaster project. I know many people take advantage of the help the government gives them, but in this case if the homeowners weren't allowed to see the damage claim, there is no way they should be held accountable.

    Bottom line it is our tax dollars that are paying for this mess so someone has to come down on and hold accountable ICF for these huge errors. I am not holding my breath...

    April 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  15. Emily

    I'm personally glad that they're being billed. Millions and billions of dollars have been sent, and yet they still live in squalor. These people have no concept of what to do with money: how to make proper investments, housing choices and insurance choices. That much is clear from the very beginning. I am from South Carolina, and Hurricane Hugo ravaged the coast, particularly the Charleston area. And yet not nearly as big a deal was made. These are folks who are irresponsible make bad life decisions, and in a time of crisis they blame the government and say "Oh, poor me." Ridiculous.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  16. Bev Gordon Jones

    I am not all surprised, this time it was the state-watch out for FEMA – I live in Pennsylvania, I had a flood about 3 years ago, late in 2006 FEMA notified me they wanted the money returned, paid me to much for damages and that I received $5,000 from a rider on a Homeowners Policy. Please tell the people, do not appeal, they want you to, (I did presenting them with actual paid invoides) not only does it not matter it helps accrue interest for the state or the Federal Government. If they don't receive the money, they will do what they did to me, took my Income Tax Refund without notice in January of 2008.

    STAY AWAY FROM STATE GOVERNMENT HELP AND/OR FEMA.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  17. Kate

    How do you spell relief? C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N

    April 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  18. Gary

    Considering the sums that ICF has been paid (and continues to be paid), overpayments should come out of their pocket! If they go out of business – so much the better! Hate to say it but this is a classic case of patronage, incompetence and pure downright greed to make money off of the backs of the people involved in disasters like this. However, that is business as usual.

    I'm not a fan of big government but I'm becoming even less a fan of big business and think it's time to make sure that we have mechanisms and procedures in place BEFORE events such as Katrina and Rita happen.

    Sadly, this would have happened no matter who is in the White House or Congress. Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, have proven that all that matters to them is winning office at any cost. Once in power, they will do all they can to remain in power. Maybe it's time to reevaluate campaign funding, set limits on the dollar amount that can be spent, money that can be donated and how long you can remain in office. Until the people take back government, the professional politicians and bureaucrats will continue to screw up like this!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  19. Russell

    Trying not to sound mean hearted, but don't most home owners have house insurance for this exact reason. I pay around $2000.00 per year in house insurance to have some peace of mind. If you don't buy it, why do you expect the government to pay the bill.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  20. Bob P.

    I can only hope that the government will come to its senses and pardon the overpayments. And I also hope–make that, strongly desire–that ICF completely goes out of business for their stupidity. If a company drops the ball, it's their responsiblity to clean up the mess; if they don't, then may they experience the same misfortune they have bestowed upon those in their care.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  21. Kevin

    This is just plain disgusting. It amazes me the preposterousness of the ICF to expect people to pay back money for a mistake that they made. The people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have suffered ENOUGH! That money can be made back over time by a large organization, but it may take years for citizens to recover from the financial blow of having to pay back what they are being asked for. Grant money is supposed to be given without the expectation of repaying it. It is shameful of the IMF to create contract loopholes that hurt the individual. They should have put the time and expertise into making sound judgments before giving the money to the home-owners. Shame on the ICF!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  22. debbie

    Its an abomination. They were raped by the insurance companies and now raped by their own government. Its an outrage. An all out outrage. What do I think? I'm furious.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  23. Chris

    I'm sure that I'm in the minority, and will probably get flamed, but here goes...I see nothing wrong with the government asking for a portion of money back. He still received some "free" money to repair something that should have been up to him to repair. It irks me that people think the government should be responsible to give people money in times like this. I think people should be responsible for themselves. If people decide to live on the gulf, below sea level in a hurricane prone area , they should be prepared for something like this.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  24. Linda, Colorado

    Surely, no one thought they were actually going to get real help. More double talk BS. We can all hope that the government (local, state and federal) would actually do what they say they are going to do. Remember that as you elect your officials. People in New Orleans have an awesome sense of spirit and THE FOOD WOW. Hold on tight to your future. GOD BLESS.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  25. courtney

    This is yet another fine example of people in power having no accountability. The state and it's contractor screwed up, so instead of admitting and accounting for their mistakes they're going to pass the mistake on to the homeowner, which could either sign the contract and get the money to repair their house, or not sign the contract and get nothing.

    And I'm sure there's a clause in there that says something to the effect that if it's not paid by a specified time, interest will be applied.

    What needs to happen is other states, governments, organizations and citizens put pressure on them to own up to their mistake and leave the homeowner out of it. It's the right thing to do...PERIOD!

    April 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  26. Tia, West Virginia

    It is a very sad situation all around. The people of New Orleans keep getting kicked down when they keep trying to get ahead. And it's not right.
    Personally I feel that ICF should be the responsible party and the overpayments should come straight from them. The government likes to try to keep the small person under their thumb.
    As always our family will continue to keep New Orleans in our prayers. Answers will come from above.
    To the people of New Orleans continue to keep your head held high.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  27. geesmith

    Leave it to the Government to give you something and then ask for it back. I would wait a couple of weeks before I spend the stimulus check.

    I have lived in the HPT ROADS most of my life. I am well familiar with Suffolk. Believe me when I say this is something many residents have never seen and more than likely were ill-prepared for. My family still lives there and they say it is a mess.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  28. Susannah

    I moved very recently from New Orleans (for reasons unrelated to "The Storm"), and although I appreciate that the national media continues to pay us attention (b/c goodness knows goverment doesn't), I must take issue with your opening sentence. You say that every time you visit you hope that things are going to be better, the community will be more healed, and NOLA will look more alive. Well, as some one who was living there pre- and post-Katrina, let me tell you things are better; the community is more healed; and NOLA does look more alive. More restaurants are open now than before the storm. Jazzfest, French Quarter Fest, and Mardi Gras have been back. Conventioneers are beginning to clog the streets again. Please don't give people such a negative impression. We want people to come visit, spend money, and spend time because there is plenty to see and do just as there always was. Yes, there is much more that needs to happen, but that doesn't mean that New Orleanians haven't accomplished a lot in the two and a half years since the storm. That said, please keep reporting on us. Just make sure you give credit where it's due–to the wonderful, crazy, courageous people who continue love living and working in New Orleans.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  29. Bonnie

    OMG. Please, how can these people be expected to pay that money back? The fact that the contractor made this horrendous error, this should not fall back on the people that have lost everything they own and had to basically start from scratch. Now that they're getting back on their feet, let's go in there and pull the rug right from under them. Gees, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to say that's a terrible idea. This is a rich country, let's reach into the pockets of the politicians, entertainers and all those other folks out there, with big huge wallets.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  30. Brian

    This is typical Louisiana. I was born and lived in the state for 37 years. The last 5 of which I lived in N.O. before Katrina blew me to greener pastures in Northern California. Louisiana is a backward state with backward people running it. Local government rarely dots its "i's" and crosses it's "t's" and leaves the citizens holding the bag (but they are the ones voting the gov. officials back in office each year). Louisiana is a complete joke as a state.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
  31. Brad

    We all know how much money federal and state governments waste each day. A few million is a spec in the sea of pork barrel projects and inefficient processes of government programs. That makes this injustice even harder to accept. Let the poor people alone. If anything, fine the incompetent contractor the two million and be done with it! If I were a lawyer I would take up the cause of these 300 families and see that they never have to pay this.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
  32. Frederick

    With all the government wastes and spends on foolish programs, the government is going to demand 1.75 million back?
    Insult!
    how much did it cost to find the error and how much will it cost to recover the money?
    Most of these homeowners are probably working class or retired people, so of coarse the government wants the money back.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
  33. Brian Lee

    The Road Home Program was in principle a very good & generous program. The contractor ICF faced some serious hurdles just getting set up. However they were paid 10% of the program total close to a $1 billion .

    Of course ICF never lived up their promises and their performance was horrible. Granted the task was enormous, difficult and time consuming, but there was no performance accountability. The original plan was modified and holes were punched into the program's accountablity.

    The Governor , Blank0, was in fact responsible for the program's poor performance, lack of accountability and over compensation. The blame should be placed squarely at her feet. She even unilaterally approved an extra payment of $100 million in the days before she left office. 360 should do an analysis of the ineptitude of the Blank0 administration and her husband Coach who was the de facto governor under the Blank0 administration.

    As for the $2 million dollars of over payments, take it out of the $1 billion of compensation paid to ICF. They made the mistake and they should be held accountable for their errors, unless fraud by the participant is involved and proved in court.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  34. jim b

    It is amazing to me that when I receive a bill that I am required to pay it....oh wait, that is expected of me as an adult. Just because there has been a tragedy doesn't mean that I am no longer held responsible. Yes it is a shame, but when Oklahoma needed help after the ice storm there wasn't a lot of hand wringing and wailing and gnashing of teeth, just people helping each other to make it through a hard time. Poor New Orleans, they can't make it with out someone giving them a pass for everything especially poor local government oversight. This is what is to be expected from 50 years of Democrat control of the state, and isn’t it the state that is asking for the money given by the federal government? I for one am tired of liberals trying to have this tragedy continue so that they can “make points” by blaming the president.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  35. Kate

    One disgusting act of betrayal after another. The pact tacitly entered into by citizens and governments has been ignored and trampled by the government yet again. As if the hurricane, its aftermath, the faulty FEMA trailers, the corrupt HUD situations, etc, were not enough, now the government fails to defend its most vulnerable citizens from financial rape... How many more passively political attacks will New Orleans suffer? How long will the rest of the country sit by, read news articles, and then go on with their day? How long will the culture of 'those people, not me' continue to rend us, nationally, apart from our fellow citizens, whose rights are crushed due to the history of a racially divided land?

    April 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  36. Keith

    The government barely lifted a finger to help these people and now they want money in return for what they did do? No wonder my Canadian friends think this country is a joke, ...I'm starting to agree with them.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  37. cameron

    This does NOT surprise me at all. When a disaster occurs in any fashion or state people will take advantage of it. Many people lined up to get money and food and water that did not need it, they also took money for homes that were not even touched by the storm. I lived in Fort Lauderdale Florida until last year and I we had the same thing happen there. People actually bragged about the free money and told their friends how and where to get it.
    Its like when a bus is in an accident , people actully jump on the bus and say they were involved to sue mass transit.
    If this storm would have hit the richer areas of new orleans it would have been re-built last year bigger and better than before.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  38. CJ

    I have worked closely w/ the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many people DO owe money back and took for granted the funds that were given to them. I have spoken to many people who received enough money from their flood carrier to pay off their mortgage, enough from their wind carrier to repair or rebuild their home and received grants from the Road Home Program which was "money in their pockets" two residents of New Orleans even told me that they submitted an application just to see if they would get money and it turned out they did.. over $100k when their homes were already rebuilt with no money out of pocket. Unfortunately the greed of a few takes away the need of the majority. If you are a Louisiana Resident that lived in a dilapidated house pre-Katrina with a monthly mortgage payment and post-Katrina through the help of the government / state etc.. now have a free and clear mortgage with a beautiful new "upgraded" home than you are one of those that should give the money back for the families that are really in need. The Local and Federal Governments may not have given the accurate funds based on the actual damages but last time I checked when I go to an ATM and it spits out money, legally I can't run off with it.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  39. terri

    I live in Texas. In August, Katrina hit Louisiana. In September, Rita hit us. Because of what hapened to New Orleans, everyone evacuated for Rita. Hurricane Katrina was devastating, and the loss of life was unbearable. However, Rita was also a category 5 hurricane. We were victims of many tornadoes as well as flooding. It was downplayed due to Katrina's devastation. Many of our citizens lost homes and their lives. There were many Katrina victims who were staying at the same hotel as we were that received money for Rita, even though it did not affect them. I have seen many Katrina victims living high on the hog with their hands out, benefiting from everything they can. Rita victims did not do this, nor did the Katrina victims from surrounding states. Katrina was horrible, and many good people lost everything, including their lives. But there are people out there living on charity even after 3 years. They are making it bad for the good citizens of N.O. Rita victims bonded together, helped each other, and life went on. Katrina is still hapening here in Texas, with city crime rates going up in Houston after thousands of Katrina victims took refuge there, My hometown is small, and we took in Katrina refugees even after Rita devastated our town. They were brought to a local church, where they vandalized the walls and stole the church van. There is a legitimate need for Katrina victims, but some of these people are making it bad for the rest.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  40. Steve

    So they overpaid people who really needed the money. Big deal! I find it very hard to believe that the Federal government needs to collect $1.75 million from the people who have suffered so much when we spend just as much on a few pieces of military equipment. What good is all that defensive power if the people of this country are treated this way? What good are the masses of earmark projects when people who are rebuilding their homes and lives are being asked to make up the difference? We could find the money elsewhere, but as usual, the government would take the easy road rather than find a more humane solution.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  41. Judith S Rogers

    Of course it is cruel, senseless and maybe premeditated – knowing our government and in this instance knowing how they did NOT respond to the Katrina disaster it is not unexpected. Am I surprised at this subversion NO am I disgusted YES.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  42. Mary, IL

    Those poor people, nothing like knocking them back down every time they try to stand up again. Why is it everytime the government tries to do something (New Orleans, Iraq), the situation get worse for innocent people rather than better!?!?

    April 29, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  43. Steve

    This is an almost unbelievable story. I would not be surprised to also hear that it cost the tax payers twice the awarded amount for the government to administer the grants.

    Poor FEMA response time, over payments on waste disposal, trailers people can't live in and now this.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  44. gene groome

    I worked with a disaster contractor after Katrina, some of the things I saw happen in the aftermath was unbelievable.Some people, who were renters, people who before the storm, didn't have very much in the way of property or belongings, were given 10,000 to 15,000 dollars in the form of grants to help them replace things they might have lost....whereas people who were property owners who may have not had insurance coverage were given, in some cases nothing to help themselves get back on their feet. It just seems that things were very unfairly handled by many people from many walks of life that had no idea what they were doing...hence the american taxpayer has had to foot the burden of stupidity!!! thankx for the vent.....gene

    April 29, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  45. Pamela

    ICF Inc., for those like Cindy that apparently skimmed the article, is an OUT-OF-STATE company, hired by the State of Louisiana, to manage disbursement of the funds. The State specifically hired an OUT-OF-STAE company to avoid any appearance of mismanagement. So, the citizens of Louisiana were victimized by this company. And hopefully when the state sues them, they will recover enough funds to wipe out any debt these homeowners may be liable for.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  46. Janet, Texas

    I agree that the contractor that the state hired who overestimated the payments should be the ones responsible for THEIR mistake and not the people of New Orleans. What a slap in the face!

    Maybe someone should investigate whether or not there is a "good ol boy" relationship between whoever did the actual hiring of the contractor and whoever owns ICF and take it from there.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  47. Rebecca

    This is just ridiculous.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  48. Joel

    I can not imagine that there is a more important project than rebuilding homes. If done in a rush, a clerical error on one house can be expected, but clerical errors on hundreds of houses when every dollar can be the difference between a leaky roof and a fixed house is just plain negligence on the part of the inspectors. Regardless of the legality behind signing a blind contract, the government needs to pick their battles better and stop acting like they are the only ones with problems. There should be some leniency when dealing with such a sensitive case.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  49. Mark Johnson

    I think it is absolutely wrong to bill anyone until each incident is properly investigated.

    Having said that I was down there for 8 months working. I would work from 5am to 4pm on contract and from 4pm to midnite and sometimes beyond I would work for free for poor people and elderly people.

    I was cheated by alot of people that had money for my work and some times the people I would volunteer for would take thier money from the gov. and head to the casinos in Biloxi. It made me very angry.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  50. John

    Anderson: If ICF was responsible for the estimates ( or for that matter if the state did them) and the homeowner was not allowed to review them ( and this is consistent for all others ,i.e. they were not allowed to see the estimate and were not required to sign off on it)o r did not sign off on them then I would think that the State should go after ICF for the overages not the person at the bottom of the Federal State feed trough. I would ask ICF/State why were homeowners not allowed to see estimate? Why they were not required to sign off on it...not for the dollars per say but for all the items contained in the estimate. If this program was under Gov Blanco then no wonder it is such a mess.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
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