Deadline almost here for Road Home applicants

Published 4:54 pm Thursday, November 29, 2007

The deadline for applicants for Louisiana’s Road Home program to schedule their initial appointments is Dec. 1, Cyril Saulny, Community Outreach Consultant for the Road Home program, said on Wednesday.

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

“Dec. 1 is the deadline to make the appointment, and Dec. 15 is the deadline to have the appointment process completed. They have about two more weeks to have completed their initial application,” Saulny said.

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Saulny said as of Nov. 26, 186,010 Louisiana residents whose homes were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had applied for the program, but only 164,506 have made their appointments.

“That number may have increased by now. I think there are currently between 13,000 and 15,000 residents who have not made their initial appointments,” Saulny said.

Catherine Anthony, who has been working with former Louisiana residents now living in the Pearl River County area, said there are approximately 60 applicants in the area who have not completed their initial appointment.

Saulny said the appointments can be done over the phone and through the mail for residents who cannot make it to one of the 13 centers that are located in Louisiana and Texas, but that the interviews should be done in person if at all possible.

“We have centers in New Orleans and Slidell. There are centers within an hour or so commute of anywhere within the state of Louisiana. … Applicants are told which centers have available appointments, and can decide where they want to go,” Saulny 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.

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

“There are three options available to the homeowner. Option one is for the homeowner to stay in the damaged home and prove they were the owner/occupant at the time of the storm. The homeowner will be reimbursed for repairing the property. Option two is for the homeowner to sell the property to the state of Louisiana and relocate within the state. Option three is for the homeowner to sell the property to the state of Louisiana and move out of state,” Saulny said.

Saulny said approximately 95,000 residents have chosen option one, slightly more than 9,000 have chosen option two, and around 2,500 have chosen option three.

Saulny also said currently 71,652 applicants have already closed on their properties, and another 1,260 are scheduled for closing.

“A total of 145,567 applicants have had their benefits calculated so far, and the amount of those benefits calculated has been in the neighborhood of $9.275 billion. The current amount dispensed is $4.698 billion, with the average benefit being around $63,718,” Saulny said.

Saulny said that while the application process is individualized and the amount a homeowner receives will vary, the goal of the program is for homeowners to choose to remain in the state.

“The incentive of the program is to stay in the state and preferably repair their home that was damaged at the time of the storm,” Saulny said. “Theoretically, option one would yield more than options two or three.”

A community meeting to allow applicants to ask questions and schedule their appointments was held Wednesday evening at Pearl River Community College.

Saulny said applicants could schedule their initial appointments at the meeting and were also given the opportunity to ask questions about the status of their application.

“Applicants can also check their status from the website, if they have received their username and password,” Saulny said.

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