Monday, February 13, 2006

 

It's not the Baker Bill, but it's a start

The state proposed housing buyout/grant program looks to me like a good start. It's a state-run program, capped at $150,000 per household in grants or buyouts, designed to get a homeowner back to 100% of pre-Katrina value. I don't like the low cap, but it looks like it would do a great deal for folks across the metro area. The following examples are for a home valued at $200,000 pre-K.

For those who want to sell entirely:

If he has already received an insurance check for $100,000, for instance, the government would offer another $100,000.

The plan also includes some help for bridging the gap between flood insurance and the value of their home. Folks with flood insurance would be eligible for gap grants of 80% of the estimated difference in cost of repairs:

"If the repair job was estimated at $180,000, and he's already received an insurance check for $100,000, he would be eligible for a grant of $64,000, leaving him with a "gap" of $16,000. "

Even those who didn't have flood insurance would be given grants, but up to 60% of gap:

"If the owner received an insurance check for $20,000, and the repair job was estimated at $180,000, he could receive a check for $96,000, leaving him with a "gap" of $84,000. "

I like this for a number of reasons, one being that it focuses on homeowners. I do feel bad for renters, and I know they are affected as much or more than homeowners, but they are also more able to relocate due to nothaving the chains of a mortgage. I also think that home ownership helps to foster a community identity that comes across in numbers of different ways, from parental involvement in schools to cleanliness of neighborhoods. Secondly, I like the extra help for those covered by flood coverage, I don't like the idea of the government always bailing out those who don't have the proper coverage to begin with. A third reason that I like this is that it will leave the state with an inventory of property that can be converted into greenspace, used to build new schools and other infrastructure, and in the long run create affordable housing stock in neighborhoods that have revitalized themselves.

This plan has the approval of the five metro parish leaders, and apparently the state government as well. This is unprecidented cooperation between the local leaders, hopefullywe can continue this novel idea of working together into the future.

I'm sure this story will develop over the coming days. I predict there will be a backlash from many in Jefferson parish who would be left out of this first round of money (the threshhold for buyouts is 2 feet or more of flooding), and other outcry from around the state for the money being concentrated in the five parish area. Hopefully, we can come to a good, quick agreement on this. Something needs to be given the ability to move full speed ahead. We'll be 6 months post storm in a few weeks.

Story: BUYOUT IN WORKS

Comments:
I agree. A good start. Still, the federal govt should be responsible for making you 100% whole if indeed it is their negligent design of the levee walls that was the cause of the flooding and not the hurricane.
 
To me, this is a whole hell of a lot better than Baker. Maybe France can subsidize the thing, since the Feds are just walking away.
 
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