The number of rebuilding grants through Louisiana’s Road Home program tripled over the past week and officials say they expect to meet the goal of approving 10,000 grants by the end of November.
The increase came as companies administering the $7.5 billion program added about 100 workers and as the program began accepting applications by phone, officials said. The program compensates homeowners for uninsured losses of up to $150,000 caused by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita last year.
By Nov. 10, 90 homeowners had used the telephone option that was started two days earlier, said Road Home spokeswoman Carol Hector-Harris.
Louisiana Recovery Authority member Walter Leger said nearly 2,000 grant awards have been approved.
“It’s increasing at a rate where they could meet that (10,000) goal. It must be done,” Leger said. “It’s possible, and they just have to do it. People are getting anxious.”
Nearly 79,000 applications have been received, As of Nov. 9, only 25 grant awards had gone to closing, meaning the money was officially made available, Hector-Harris said. Another 83 homeowners have been awarded grants and selected a payment option, meaning a closing could occur within days, she said.
LRA Executive Director Andy Kopplin said Road Home call center workers will soon be able to tell homeowners the precise status of their applications.
ICF International, which is administering the program, and subcontractors employed about 900 people in the Road Home program Nov. 1, but that number has jumped to 1,000 and should rise to at least 1,350 as the processing workload peaks in coming months, Hector-Harris said.
Information from: The Times-Picayune, www.timespicayune.com.