Deadline approaching for Road Home applicants

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The deadline for applicants for Louisiana’s Road Home program to schedule their initial appointments is Dec. 1, 2007, Julie Harris of Road Home Community Outreach said Monday.

The last day for the initial applications to be submitted to the program was July 31, and anyone who turned in an initial application but has not scheduled an initial appointment to fill out the secondary application should do so as soon as possible, Harris said.

“Dec. 1 is the deadline to make the appointment, but December 15 is the deadline to have the appointment process completed, so they need to make their appointments as soon as possible,” Harris said.

Harris said more than 180,000 Louisiana residents whose homes were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have applied for the program, but only approximately 160,000 have made their appointments.

Harris said the appointments can be done over the phone and through the mail for residents who cannot make it to one of the 11 centers that are located in Louisiana and Texas, but that the interviews should be done in person if at all possible.

“We have a center in Slidell, one in Baton Rouge, one in Kenner, one in St. Bernard Parish, and three in New Orleans, as well as others. … Applicants are told which centers have available appointments, and can decide which center they want to go to,” Harris said.

Harris said the interviews usually last between an hour and an hour and a half.

“It really depends upon the homeowner. It’s very individualized. The homeowner has the opportunity to ask any questions they have. It’s not a rushed process,” Harris said.

Harris said there is a list of items that needs to be brought to the initial appointment, including government-issued photo identification, Social Security number, FEMA claim number and assistance documentation, documents proving ownership of the home, insurance policies (including proof of claims or payouts for hurricane damage), home appraisal, proof of income for adult household members currently and for three months prior to the appointment and a utility bill or statement from the time of the storm.

Harris said the program offers different options to homeowners, depending on their needs.

“If they want to move back to Louisiana and repair their home, that’s one option. Another option is to sell the home to the State of Louisiana. After they complete the initial interview, they have up to three years to abide by the covenant of the option they choose,” Harris said.

If a homeowner decides to return to Louisiana and repair the home, they must use it as a permanent residence, obtain proper homeowner’s insurance, and repair the home to building code specifications, Harris said.

Harris said even if a homeowner goes through the interview process, it does not mean they have to complete the process.

“After the interview is complete, the homeowner will receive an option letter, and they can decide then to opt out of the program. If they don’t take the funding, there is no penalty for pulling out of the program. The key is to give one’s self the option. If there’s a remote chance a homeowner wants to come back (to Louisiana), they will have that option available to them,” Harris said.

A community meeting to allow applicants to ask questions and schedule their appointments was held Monday evening at Pearl River Community College, but no applicants appeared.

Harris said another meeting would be scheduled in November to give applicants another opportunity to have any questions answered.

Any applicants with any questions about the program or who need to schedule their initial appointment can call 1-888-ROAD-2-LA (1-888-762-3252) or visit the website, www.road2LA.org.