Sunday, December 23, 2007

Latest LRA Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Friday, December 21, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:

Melissa Landry
Louisiana Recovery Authority
225 342 1788

melissa.landry@la.gov


LRA and OCD Highlight Changes to Assist Road Home Applicants


NEW ORLEANS (December 21, 2007) -
Today the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and the Office of Community Development (OCD) highlighted two important changes that have recently been made to the Road Home program to assist applicants.

"These common-sense changes were requested by advocates and jointly drafted by the LRA and OCD staff as proposed by the LRA's Housing Task Force," said Walter Leger, Chair of the LRA Housing Task Force. "We believe that it's critical that ICF works quickly to make sure that every member of their staff is knowledgeable about these policies so they can give homeowners timely and accurate information."

FIELD REVIEW APPRAISALS

The Road Home program is now conducting Field Review Appraisals for applicants who provided their own post-storm appraisals that were not accepted by the Road Home. The Road Home estimates there are less than 200 homeowners that currently fall into this category. The Field Review Appraisal process is automatically triggered when a homeowner submits their own post-storm certified appraisal that exceeds 120% of the pre-storm value as determined by the Road Home program. Applicants with such appraisals should submit them to an ICF staff member in Dispute Resolution, who will schedule a field review appraisal by a Louisiana certified appraiser to validate the homeowner's certified appraisal. The change enables the Road Home to use independent Louisiana certified appraisers to review whether a homeowner's appraisal is valid as the pre-storm value for grant calculation.

In addition to this new procedure, for applicants who are currently in Appeals to dispute their pre-storm value, the Road Home program will now offer the option of having a full appraisal, known as a 1004 appraisal which is provided by the Road Home Program and conducted by a Louisiana certified appraiser.

This procedure is now in place and was effective as of November 9, 2007. All homeowners are being notified of this change and homeowners with questions are encouraged to contact a member of the dispute resolution staff of the Road Home.

WRITTEN DOCUMENTATION

In an effort to increase outreach to applicants and assist them to better understand their status in the Road Home program, this change provides a homeowner with written documentation at various stages of the Road Home process. Effective as of January 1, 2008, there are three key points of information that this change of communications will address:

  1. The exact amount of grant awards under options 1, 2, and 3.
  2. Details about dispute resolution status and outcomes.
  3. Current status of the application and details about any information found to be missing from it.

The Road Home program will continue to provide homeowners with supporting documentation used to determine the following at all stages of the process.

  1. Pre-storm value
  2. Estimated Cost of Damages

The Road Home Program was designed by the LRA and is administered by the Division of Administration's Office of Community Development (OCD) and its contractor, ICF International.

"We fully support any effort to increase the homeowner's ability to make informed decisions about their grant awards," said Michael Taylor, director of the Disaster Recovery Unit, Office of Community Development.

"Homeowners can now expect to get all the data for determining their grant award and commitments from Road Home staff in writing, and they can expect to get independent appraisals on their homes, said Melanie Ehrlich, a member of the LRA's Housing Task Force and Co-Chairman of the Citizens' Road Home Action Team (CHAT). "These new policies are important, and we want to make sure that homeowners know that these changes are now in place."

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