Amid complaints the Road Home program is moving too slowly, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon asked insurance companies to speed their cooperation with the state’s hurricane housing aid program.
The Road Home program, which gives grants of up to $150,000 to homeowners who suffered damage from hurricanes Katrina or Rita, must verify insurance payments and deduct that from the eligible grant amount. But the private contractor running the aid program says insurance companies aren’t providing policy-holder data quickly enough and are slowing down the grants.
Blanco and Donelon sent a letter to insurers, released Nov. 22, telling companies they should designate a contact person to deal directly with Road Home officials. They also asked the companies to meet with the aid program to learn the data exchange process.
The governor and insurance commissioner want insurance companies respond to Road Home requests within three business days after they are received.
“Please know that the urgency level of our efforts could not be higher,” Blanco and Donelon said in the letter.
Only 39 homeowners out of an estimated 123,000 eligible in Louisiana have received housing recovery grants for repairs or buyouts through the $7.5 billion Road Home program.
Blanco, who has tied her name to the program, urged the head of the company hired by her administration to dole out the aid, ICF International Inc., to speed the grant-awarding process.
ICF has a $756 million contract with the state to operate and manage the homeowner repair and buyout program and a separate rental aid program, which hasn’t begun handing out assistance.
Road Home applicants are eligible for up to $150,000 in homeowner assistance – funded through federal aid from Congress – depending on the extent of the damage and other aid received, including insurance proceeds. The average grant given to the 39 families who have actually received dollars is $49,804, according to a spokeswoman for the Road Home.
More than 79,700 homeowners have applied for aid.
To apply for the Road Home program, homeowners can call 1-888-ROAD-2-LA or apply online at www.road2LA.org.
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