Thursday, December 21, 2006

ICFI tweaks the process.

I guess they didn't see the need to speed things up any earlier. I guess 92 out of 80,000 (or 0.115%) applications was good enough.

ICF International, which is running the $7.5 billion program, is under pressure to speed up help for homeowners.

President Bush’s point-man on the hurricane recovery weighed in Wednesday in a letter that takes ICF to task for getting financial assistance to only 1 percent (sic) of applicants.

Since the program began this summer, 92 homeowners have received funding. More than 80,000 homeowners have applied for assistance.

“I have serious concerns about the effectiveness and expediency of the program,” Don Powell wrote ICF.

ICF spokesman Dwight Cunningham said late Wednesday that the company is preparing a response.

“We have received the letter from Chairman Powell and we are responding,” he said.

A New Orleans lawmaker recently pitched a tent on the State Capitol lawn and vowed to stay there until the program improved.

Rep. Charmaine Marchand, D-New Orleans, took down her tent Wednesday, a day after meeting with Blanco and other top officials for three hours at the Governor’s Mansion.

Marchand, whose legislative district includes the heavily hit Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, complained of homeowners receiving offers of $87 from ICF for their property.

The maximum allowable under the program is $150,000.

New Orleans Sen. Ann Duplessis, who has been part of Blanco’s team looking at improving the Road Home program, said in a prepared statement, “The changes make sense when you consider how diverse the New Orleans housing market is. We have an entire team of local professionals dedicated to the real estate and housing industry, and they will now play a vital role in making the Road Home program work better for our people.”

Yeah, the article is wrong. It is not one percent but 0.115% -- or if you want to round that off, 0% of applicants who have received any money from Road Home.

Update: Much more detail on the changes here.

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