Some good news out of Louisiana. Well, a teensy bit.
Thousands of homeowners affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita are now eligible for more grant funds to protect their homes from loss in future storms.
Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (yes, I realize how funny his last name is given his job), announced yesterday this so-called Individual Mitigation Measures program.
What it amounts to is that families can get up to $7,500 to take “small scale measures” for the benefit of their residences. Installing roof tie-downs. Storm shutters. That level of project. The assumption is that we’re so far along in the recovery that we are at the last phase of the total effort – preventing future storm damage.
Having been to New Orleans this summer, I’m not sure we can say that with such certainty.
To put this in perspective, the Road Home Program (which, as the name applies, was designed to rebuild homes so that Louisiana residents could return from where they evacuted to) has provided almost $8 billion to about 125,000 homeowners in the state. But, according to research by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Ca), the average award has been just over $60,000, nowhere close to what it takes to substantially repair damaged houses.
That gap is where Rebuilding Together fits in.
As Waters puts it, “It is high time to get serious and get beyond just talking about doing something to help these people: four years after Hurricane Katrina, we still have individuals living in trailers, seeking additional benefits, dispersed throughout the country in unfamiliar cities.”
And, although more money is terrific, we have to consider who it’s helping, where it’s going.