Long and Winding “Road Home” to New Olreans

The good news for New Orleans is that many applying for federal grants under the state’s Road Home program say they plan to return. The bad news is that it is still a painfullyslow process

Almost three-fourths of New Orleans homeowners applying for federal grants say they will use the money to rebuild their flood-ruined properties rather than take a buyout or relocate, a figure that far surpasses the state average and may signal the potent recovery of a city still largely mired in decay.

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The numbers, however, should not be weighed too strongly, Kopplin said. Homeowners are not bound by the intentions they express on the applications. So far, grants have been awarded to 255 families; only 13 have actually received them, with an average award of $41,582, program managers reported Tuesday.

Furthermore, only 33,885 applications have been processed statewide, accounting for about one-fourth of the 123,000 residents who are expected to be eligible for housing aid. Kopplin said as many as 30,000 more applications have been received but have not yet been entered into a computer management system

The news is not so good in St. Bernard Parish though…

While the news of homeowners’ return to New Orleans seems positive, nowhere do the numbers seem bleaker than in suburban St. Bernard Parish, where nearly every shop and home was flooded.

So far, only 37 percent of parish residents who have applied for grants said they planned to rebuild their houses where they stood before the storm. Another 42 percent are seeking buyouts of some kind, though most indicated they planned to remain in Louisiana.

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