[StBernard] LRA, OCD Meet with ICF Officials to Address Road Home Issues

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Fri Jan 25 23:52:17 EST 2008

LRA, OCD Meet with ICF Officials to Address Road Home Issues

Team Works Together to Improve Program for Louisiana Residents

BATON ROUGE, La. (January 25, 2008) -- At the request of Governor Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Recovery Authority's (LRA) new Executive Director Paul Rainwater, the Division of Administration's Office of Community Development (OCD) Executive Director Suzie Elkins, and Disaster Recovery Unit (DRU) Director Mike Taylor convened a meeting with members of ICF International's program management team on Wednesday to discuss progress in The Road Home program and develop an action plan for moving forward.

"While the Road Home program has made significant strides in recent months, we all know there are still delays in the program that need to be addressed," said Rainwater. "Governor Jindal has directed us to work closely together to remove these barriers, produce new efficiencies in government, provide transparency and ultimately show even greater progress. These were the issues that we discussed with ICF this week.

"As a result of our meeting, ICF has committed to provide greater transparency for homeowners to relieve the frustration that comes from uncertainty. They've also committed to improve direct communication to homeowners through more aggressive case management. Specific performance indicators will be incorporated that place additional emphasis on reducing the processing time for homeowners including penalties for poor performance. We will also be reviewing policies and procedures to see if there are other ways to speed up the process, without sacrificing quality. Details of these agreements will be forthcoming in days and weeks ahead, but today, homeowners should be assured that we are united in our efforts to improve the quality and pace of this program. As Governor Jindal has said, we must, we can and we will do better."

On Wednesday, OCD staff briefed Rainwater on plans to implement an aggressive case management program for tracking and resolving difficult cases. Beginning in February, all open and active applications will be assigned a Personal Application Liaison (PAL) who will be the applicant's direct contact through closing. Road Home applicants will receive notice of their PAL in early February.

"We welcome Paul Rainwater to the LRA and look forward to working with him to keep the momentum of the program going," said Elkins. "Paul has expressed his desire for ICF to streamline Road Home processes wherever possible, improve customer service and transparency and ensure that progress continues in the coming months. We share these goals and we are excited to have his participation as a partner in this unprecedented effort."

"I am confident that we are united in our efforts to improve the quality and pace of the Road Home program," said Taylor. "While over 93,000 homeowners have closed on their grants and approximately 95% of grants calculated thus far, we know that we cannot rest until all of our homeowners have been served."

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana. Visit www.lra.louisiana.gov <http://www.lra.louisiana.gov> to learn more.

The Office of Community Development (OCD) is the State's implementation body charged with the expenditure and programmatic oversight of federal Community Development Block Grant funds awarded for Louisiana's rebuilding initiatives. OCD works in concert with the Louisiana Recovery Authority to assure that program design adheres to the parameters and requirements of CDBG funds. OCD also works with federal, state, and local officials to assure that programs and initiatives meet the needs of communities and its citizens.


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