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Loyola’s Katrina Clinic goes to bat for homeowners being rushed through Road Home

August 15, 2008

Davida Finger, a staff attorney with Loyola’s College of Law, led an advocacy effort to battle the deadline for Road Home. She and other Katrina Clinic colleagues circulated petitions, met with city council members and sent letters to Governor Bobby Jindal and Paul Rainwater, executive director of the LRA, urging the organization to rescind the deadline which Finger said would deny aid to thousands of applicants in the Road Home program. The Katrina Clinic is part of Loyola’s Law Clinic and advocates for government accountability in disaster issues.

The Louisiana Recovery Authority wants to impose Sept. 5 and Oct. 1 deadlines on some 14,000 people in several categories who it says did not submit follow up documents to receive grants.

“The reality is the Road Home program has been a dysfunctional program since its inception,” said City Councilman Arnie Fielkow, who with councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis endorsed a city resolution that asked the state to scrap the deadlines.

“The program is broken,” said Finger. “The solution is not now to impose an arbitrary deadline for those applications.”

LRA spokeswoman Christina Stephens said the deadlines were imposed as a way to “nudge” people toward completing their applications. But she acknowledged: "If we see an overall adverse effect to all homeowners, we're going to be reconsidering" the deadlines.

The Katrina Clinic has worked with community groups in the lower 9th ward and at New Orleans City Council and Road Home meetings on a petition drive against the deadline. The legislative and City Council committees eventually asked LRA to rescind the deadline outright. With two additional endorsers of the resolution, advocates are hopeful that council members will pass it during next week’s meeting.

The Katrina Clinic’s advocacy of homeowners in the program resulted in a number of media stories. The following are links to the coverage, along with a letter to the editor to The Times-Picayune, authored by Finger.

Recent news coverage on Road Home deadline featuring Davida Finger:

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