- New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by Emily Chamlee-Wright and Virgil Henry Storr
Chapter 11: The Road Home: Helping Homeowners in the Gulf After Katrina
1 Eileen Norcross and Anthony Skriba INTRODUCTION 11.1 The 2005 Gulf Hurricanes destroyed or damaged more than 300 000 homes in five states.2 Entire communities were abandoned, and the storms left many homes unsalvageable. Because damage in Louisiana was particularly acute, helping homeowners became an early recovery policy goal. Acting through the newly established Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), 3 the Office of the Governor directed $6.9 billion of $10.4 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to create the Road Home program, ‘the largest single housing recovery program in U.S. history’.4 Road Home received approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Louisiana legislature. LRA awarded the private firm ICF International a $756 million contract to manage the Road Home program. Road Home began accepting applications in August 2006, one year after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.5 This amount was later increased to $912 million in the final weeks of Governor Kathleen Blanco’s administration (Hammer 2008). Road Home was designed to serve as more than a disaster compensation program; it was designed to function as both planning and housing policy. The program aimed to simultaneously compensate victims, to recreate existing neighborhoods by awarding larger sums to those choosing to stay in Louisiana and to develop affordable housing options. The program targeted a broad population, extending eligibility to those who suffered wind damage (an event typically covered by homeowner’s insurance).6 The program’s efficacy has been widely criticized. By August 2007, only 23 percent of applicants...
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