La. Gov: ‘Katrina Cottage’ Construction to Begin this Month

November 7, 2007

Construction of Louisiana’s first Hurricane Katrina cottages will begin this month at the New Orleans headquarters of the National Guard, nearly a year after the state received federal funds to build them, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.

Blanco’s schedule for the cottages is in line with previous statements from Milton Bailey, head of the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the $75 million program. Bailey has said that long-delayed construction could begin at Jackson Barracks this month, provided lingering contract negotiations are completed with builders and a third-party construction monitor.

Blanco has come under criticism for the slow pace of getting construction going – particularly because Mississippi has already built hundreds of the cottages, while Louisiana has built none. An editorial in The Times-Picayune on Oct. 5 urged Blanco to “correct this mess” and streamline the effort to get the cottages built.

Blanco’s office released a letter in which the governor lashed out at Bailey.

“There are no words to express my frustration with your implementation of this program. To say the program is mired in bureaucracy would be an understatement,” Blanco said in the letter, dated Nov. 3.

Bailey could not be reached for comment. In a statement, LHFA spokesman Jeff DeGraff said, “The LHFA takes the Governor’s letter very seriously. We have no further comment at this time.”

The 75 cottages will be reserved for civilian and uniformed employees of the state military department.

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