Road home

Road Home Liaison Group has closed down its services as of February 22, 2017. To follow up on your case,

RHLG Program Overview & Activity


Partners

The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) was awarded a contract with Louisiana’s Office of Community Development to provide Road Home Liaison Services for Southeast Louisiana, with special focus on Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes. Tasks included communications & outreach, intake specialization, community-based case management and compliance assessment.


The Road Home Liaison Group was made possible with the help of community-based non-profit organizations that brought varied skills, a wealth of expertise, and local investment in the Greater New Orleans area. The Group was comprised of five non-profit partners:

Lower Ninth Ward Homeownership Association (L9WHA)
L9WHA was formed in 2006 in response to the needs expressed by residents trying to return home after the levees failed. L9WHA takes a resident-based, hands-on approach to rebuilding the community. Its mission is to rebuild the community of the Lower 9th Ward and improve the quality of life for the residents. The specific mission of the House the 9 Program—which is currently the organization’s primary focus—is to locate and bring home all displaced homeowners who want to return.

Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association (NENA)
NENA was founded in 2006. Its mission is to empower residents to play a vital role in their neighborhood’s redevelopment. NENA implements sustainable projects and programs in decent and affordable housing, economic development and education with clear community involvement and direction. NENA is also a Housing and Urban Development certified Housing Counseling Agency.

Project Homecoming, Inc. (PHC)
PHC was established in April 2007 as a ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Southeastern Louisiana. It was established to provide recovery assistance in construction and case management to those affected by Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area. As one of only two non-profit rebuilding agencies in the New Orleans area that is also a Licensed General Contractor, PHC has excelled in leveraging experienced construction staff and volunteer labor to build safe, durable, and energy-efficient houses that have allowed each low-income family to come home affordably.

SBP, Inc.
SBP’s mission is to ensure that disaster-impacted citizens and communities recover in a prompt, efficient and predictable manner. Since its founding in 2006, SBP has rebuilt homes for nearly 900 families with the help of 100,000 volunteers in New Orleans; Joplin, MO; Staten Island, NY; Rockaway, NY; and Monmouth County, NJ.

Welfare Rights Organization – Road Home Action Network Team (RHANT)
WRO was organized in 1980 with the following mission: 1) To guarantee that citizens receiving financial assistance from governmental sources are respected as human beings and full American citizens replete with all the rights and privileges of any other American citizen; and 2) To be an instrument through which it happens because WRO believes in justice. Throughout the years of service to the community, WRO has developed and empowered the people through community organizing and training programs.


The GNOHA Road Home Liaison Group also worked in partnership with Franklin Associates, a Baton Rouge based firm which will service Southwest and Southeast Louisiana.
 



Total Clients Served

RHLG has worked through 4,676 cases over the course of the two year contract. Of this, 4,520 cases are closed and considered completely worked through. The breakdown of these cases are as follows:

4,520 Fully Processed Files
  • 328 files have been brought fully into Disposition 1 – Compliance
  • 292 files have been made Disposition 2 - Occupancy Established
  • 2,549 files remain in Disposition 3 - Grant Recovery without any Variance Reductions made
  • 213 files remain in Disposition 3 - Grant Recovery with Variance Reductions
  • 13 files are set for Disposition 4 - Repayment 
  • 38 files are Disposition 5 - In Progress (LPRGs and Covenant Extensions)
  • 132 files have been Disposition 6 - Archived due to the death of the applicant
  • 923 of these are Disposition 7- Inquiry files
    • ​These are applicants who contacted us for assistance but were already in compliance, already archived, or occupancy established files that could not be moved into compliance as insurance documents were not available.
  • ​32 cases were closed as duplicate issues
As a result of this work, RHLG has processed a total of $41,098,897.70 in Variance Reductions. Separately, the archived files represent $12,614,978.78 in Road Home funds. At the outset of the program GNOHA estimated that approximately 30% of clients served would be able to be removed from recapture. Based on the data, GNOHA was able to remove 28.6% of clients served from recapture.

The RHLG also ensured it kept an ear to the ground, conducting grassroots level outreach in the form of attendance at community meetings, town hall meetings, and churches. RHLG received 776 phone calls from people all over the region who had heard about the services and were interested in receiving assistance. RHLG created special opportunities to get the word out about the program by updating its website, participating in a local television spot, making radio announcements, and hosting a training for New Orleans City Council staff. Additionally, RHLG participated in 25 outreach events over 2 years to spread the word about the Road Home closeout and unmet needs. Finally, GNOHA received 75 requests for assistance through the HelpNOLA webpage over the course of the contract.
 


Client Highlights 

Over the course of the contract GNOHA published client highlights each month. These have been a testament to the hardships that individual Road Home recipients have faced and to the hard work of the RHLG Case Managers. The following are a few from past reports:
 
November, 2016
RHLG worked with a homeowner in Braithwaite who was in recapture for RHEI but who was repaired and reoccupied her home. She explained to her case manager that she had a stick built home that was devastated by Katrina. She repaired and moved back in, only to have it again flooded by Hurricane Isaac. After Isaac, she replaced the structure with a properly elevated mobile home. Road Home was unwilling to accept the building permit as evidence that the home had been reconstructed and elevated because the address on the building permit didn't match Road Home's records. After some research, it was determined that the homeowner used an unofficial address on a small cross-street prior to Katrina and that after the storm, the Parish required she use her official address on the State Highway. Because the pre-storm address was never an official address, the Parish could not provide a change of address letter. RHLG worked with HGI's construction team to document that this was a common occurrence in Plaquemines Parish and get the property made compliant for elevation.

November, 2016
RHLG worked with a homeowner in the Lower 9th Ward who was back in her home but remained in recapture for RHEI. Her case had already been worked by HGI for approximately $28,000 in contractor fraud but she still owed $2,000. Her RHLG case manager worked with her to piece together documentation showing that she rented for several months and expended around $3,000. This eliminated her recapture completely. When told that her case was being closed because she no longer owned any money back, she said it was the "best weekend ever" and simply "couldn't believe it.”

August, 2016
RHLG worked with a client in New Orleans who was deemed ineligible after closing on the basis of occupancy and structure type, causing her to be in recapture for her entire grant award. She had repaired, reoccupied, and subsequently sold her home. The structure type of the home had been an issue since she applied for the grant, however, before she went to 
closing, the structure type was approved by OCD. RHLG brought this forward as evidence and the structure type was made eligible again. RHLG also worked to demonstrate that she occupied the home prior to Katrina, including using creative methods such as obtaining invoices for the moving truck the homeowner used to move into the space. Ultimately, the case was made eligible and the homeowner is no longer in recapture.

July, 2016
RHLG worked with a couple who had reoccupied their home in New Orleans East. After closing, their insurance increased by $11,000. The client explained that they had been defrauded by their first contractor but lacked all the documents to prove it. The RHLG case manager worked with the applicant to track down their contractor, who was no longer even working as a contractor, to locate their signed building contract. This allowed them to prove their contractor fraud and have their Road Home repayment completely eliminated. The client was elated and deeply appreciative of RHLG's assistance.

June, 2016
RHLG worked with a couple in Gentilly who received only an elevation grant ($30,000) from Road Home because they received significant insurance proceeds ($234,000). They had repaired and reoccupied the home, but did not elevate. The clients explained that they went through great personal hardship to repair their home as they experienced a Forced Mortgage Payoff and used personal funds to make repairs. RHLG worked with homeowner to document this and discovered their mortgage was forcibly paid off for $230,174.00, leaving them with only $3,826 to rebuild their home. The FMP eliminated the funds they owed to the Road Home completely. The homeowners were overjoyed.

 


Non-Profit Roundtable

The GNOHA Road Home Liaison Group encountered several individuals who are still trying to return to their pre-storm homes and who have residual initial Road Home funds or were awarded unmet needs funding that will not fill the gap needed to get their homes rebuilt. Many of these homeowners do not have enough capital to complete their construction jobs and are not bankable. The Non-Profit Construction Roundtable (NPRT) means to fill the need that exists. It is meant to be a mechanism to effectively and efficiently facilitate construction for these homeowners before the funds are no longer available. The NPRT will do this by leveraging the capacity of rebuilding groups in the Greater New Orleans area to complete these construction jobs. The NPRT consists of SBP, Project Homecoming, Rebuilding Together New Orleans, and Habitat for Humanity. The RHLG kept a watchful eye for homeowners who may be able to be paired with one of these organizations. Homeowners signed off authorizing RHLG to share their information in an effort to advance their Road Home file through the LPRG process.
 
The NPRT met in person 6 times over the course of the contract. RHLG presented 36 files total. Files were presented in a round robin fashion and the group was given the opportunity to discuss the details of the case to determine if it would be a good fit for them. Of the 36 flies, 6 files have been formally accepted by the NPRT developers. 1 of these files is pending closing, 2 files have closed (both with SBP) and Notice to Proceed should be issued shortly. 

The NPRT will continue to operate past the contract end. GNOHA received calls regularly from homeowners looking for assistance and NPRT can be a good way to centralize that data. Some challenges that the NPRT faced were limited access to funding and the stalled progress of Non-profit Rebuilding Pilot Program (NRPP). All of the NPRT developers were NRPP partners and they were not able to advance cases through that process. Additionally, while RHLG worked to shorten the Road Home CMS process by hosting the roundtable in lieu of a formal bid, the time it takes to get homeowners to close is very long.
 


Social Work Overview

Through the course of the Liaisons’ contract, GNOHA has maintained a Social Worker on hand to serve clients. While social services was not included as allowable for pay through the contract itself, GNOHA maintained that this service was a necessary part of the process towards having clients heal from the trauma they have experienced through Hurricane Katrina, the Road Home compliance process, and overall housing instability for the last decade. The total expense to GNOHA for this service was $10,131.25.

Summary
The primary services provided to individuals involved in the Road Home review process included direct contact, face-to-face visits which included reflective listening, problem solving and development of coping skills to address difficult life situations. The Social Worker assisted individuals with navigating challenging systems such as Medicaid, Social Security, eldercare services, dental care, and housing services. The Social Worker provided information and education to help individuals understand the availability and limitations of resources in the community, such as legal aid, counseling, food stamps, utility assistance, and the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
 
The Social Worker’s main takeaway from this experience is that individuals who are most in need of services live in small isolated communities. Many elderly clients have limited access to resources. If they do not have family members to help them navigate “systems”, they often do not reap the benefits of programs or inadvertently receive unfair treatment. Of the individuals contacted, the elderly appeared most worried and anxious regarding the repercussions of Road Home non-compliance. Individuals who felt that they used their financial resources to the best of their ability appeared less concerned and were more likely to express frustration and anger towards the Grant Recovery process.

Overall, most individuals were looking for and appreciated having someone to patiently listen to their concerns and frustrations surrounding the potential recapture of Road Home funds. Anticipation of the recapture and uncertainty around how it will occur caused anxiety, fear, and anger in those served. Many individuals expressed that they did not know how they would manage to repay funds.

Referral Data
  • 54 individuals were referred for Social Work services by RHLG Case Managers
  • 18 Clients were male – 36 Clients were female
  • 48 Clients were located in Orleans Parish
  • 3 Clients were located in St. Bernard Parish
  • 1 Client was located in Jefferson Parish
  • 2 Clients were located Out of State
Top Services that Referred Individuals were Seeking
  • Financial Assistance
  • Home Repair
  • Housing
  • Dental Care
  • Cleaning Services
  • Social Outlets
  • Holiday Food Baskets
  • Legal Aid
  • Grief Counseling
Challenges
  • Limited community resources, especially for senior citizens
  • Fear of Road Home and repayment of funds
Successes
  • Support to an individual who was homeless
  • Ongoing support provided to individuals
  • Linkage to churches for holiday baskets
  • Assistance with applying for services through MediCare
  • Support to a 2 person household, assisting with connecting to mental health services
  • Team building meeting held with the Case Managers
  • Presentations on Social Work skills and making referrals to new hires
Final Takeaways
The purpose of the Social Service Liaison Contract was to work to reach some of the hardest to reach families involved in the Road Home Compliance and Monitoring process. The Social Worker being a part of this service helped to facilitate discussion with these very families. When skepticism and trauma prevented families from being able to focus on ways to reach compliance, the Social Worker was able to spend the time digging in and creating space for families to be served holistically. Case Managers made referrals to the Social Worker after a) explaining the availability of services or b) observing that homeowners had several other issues going on. Services were always voluntary, and consistently helped the Case Manager and client to focus on the compliance issues. Anecdotally, RHLG supports that this service helped to create more positive outcomes for clients.