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

Loyola press release - August 15, 2008

The Louisiana Recovery Authority recently stepped back from its position on a Sept. 5 deadline for Road Home applicants after receiving pressure from members of the New Orleans City Council and a state legislative committee, who called the deadline insensitive.

Davida Finger, a staff attorney with Loyola’s College of Law, led an advocacy effort to battle the deadline. She and other Law 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 Louisiana Recovery Authority wanted 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.

Law Clinic attorneys 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. Several members of the City Council signed the petition, according to Finger. The legislative and City Council committees eventually asked LRA to rescind the deadline outright.

The Law 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:

Times-Picayune letter to the editor - Don't rush owners through broken Road Home

Times-Picayune - Drop deadlines, Road Home urged

Louisiana Public Broadcasting – Airs tonight at 7 p.m. on channel 13; channel 14 cable

AP – Advocates call for lifting Katrina aid deadlines

Wash. Ind. - FEMA Braces for Slew of Trailer Suits

Boston Globe – Advocates call for lifting Road Home deadlines

Reuters – Three years on, New Orleans is a city divided

WWL-TV – Deadline for Road Home looms

CityBusiness - Road Home won't budge on deadlines despite criticism