But according to Keegan, homeowners decided which sort of grant they wanted. As of July 13, 2010, 127, 656 applicants received $8.56 billion from the program. Of that number, 117,290 chose to stay in their homes and signed a covenant to reoccupy within three years of closing; 8,108 chose to sell their damaged home but continue living in Louisiana; and 2,258 chose to sell the damaged home and leave the state.
When the program was first launched, it operated more like a construction loan program, but HUD decided that LRA had to go to a full compensation model. Factors such as what sorts of insurance they had or their ability to get an SBA loan to start reconstruction all played into how the grant calculations were made and federal regulation required LRA to use 51% of the funds to help low-to-moderate income families, Keegan said.
Sometimes it takes a village to rebuild a neighborhood, but only if the residents have their own resources.
Gretchen Bradford’s family has lived in the city’s Pontchartrain Park neighborhood since 1958. It was the first subdivision established primarily for blacks, and included a school, several churches, a university and a golf course designed by Joseph Bartholomew. Bradford said Bartholomew designed all of the city’s courses but as an African American was prohibited from playing them.
The neighborhood’s second generation, which includes Bradford; former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial, who now heads the National Urban League; and actor Wendell Pierce were determined to restore their family homes, because that’s where their hearts are. Led by Pierce, residents established a neighborhood association and a community development corporation through which they negotiated the return of properties that people gave up after the storm. Through the Road Home program, they’ve rebuilt demolished homes into green homes, which several people are in line to buy.
For more information about purchasing a home from the Pontchartrain Park Homeowners Association, call 504.208.9291.