Housing activists are pressing the federal Housing and Urban Development department to help New Orleans residents return to homes that were damaged after Hurricane Katrina. They staged a protest at the federal building before dropping off a letter outlining their case.
As the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, community groups want HUD to start spending about $119 million in Road Home money still on the books to help thousands of New Orleans residents return home.
Viola Washington is director of the Welfare Rights Organization. She says a Road Home requirement for receipts is blocking money from being dispersed to homeowners. HUD funds Road Home.
“We want to do an affidavit — self-certification — to say that this is what we’ve done with the money and we’re trying to get HUD to accept that, because other than that they’re not going to get any money and too many people are going to be affected with their home,” she said.
They also want HUD to reimburse residents for the years of rent they’ve had to pay while their homes remain damaged.
M.A. Sheehan is director of the Homeownership Association's "House the 9" program. She speaks alongside Demetria Dixon, whose mortgage company vanished after the storm.
“The policy does allow forced mortgage payoff but in many, many cases there’s a gap because the victims have paid, like, $50,000 in rent.”
The state is working with HUD to find ways to fill the gap.