Road Home & Home Elevation Lawsuits
More about the Road Home & Home Elevation Lawsuits
The State of Louisiana has filed well over a thousand Road Home/Home Elevation lawsuits against homeowners who were given loans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As a result,you may face serious monetary consequences. Ignoring a Road Home/Home Elevation can result in a “preliminary default” judgment against you, resulting in not only repayment of the loan, but interest, attorney’s fees, and court fees as well. On this page, more about the Road Home/Home Elevation Lawsuits is provided.
The Road Home Program
As a summary and introduction, after Hurricane Katrina, the United States Congress created a fund for homeowners in Louisiana. The fund was administered by the “Road Home Corporation,” a non-profit organization created by the Louisiana legislature. This is often referred to as the Road Home program. The purpose was to aid homeowners whose homes were damaged in the storm and ensuing flooding. There were different ways in which the money was disbursed, but the bulk of the monies fell into two categories, grants and loans.
The grants were money given to the homeowners who met certain conditions. The loans were based on a contract the homeowner signed containing a variety of covenants (stipulations or rules) on how the money was to be used. Therein lies the problem: The State of Louisiana is suing many homeowners under the claim that the money was not used in accordance with the stipulations of the loan. Note: The lawsuits may include monies provided by the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, but for our purposes, we will use the term “Road Home Program.”
Why are people being sued by the State?
As mentioned, the loans came with stipulations as to how the money was to be used, a large part of which was getting the home elevated. In some cases the state is claiming that after further review, the homeowner didn’t meet the requirements for the loan, but the greatest number of suits are based on the idea that the homeowner misused the funds, with most of those accusations stating that the homeowner didn’t use the money to elevate the home.
The idea behind home elevation is fairly simple: to raise the home and put the living space above the height of flood waters that the home might see in future flooding.
The “Home Elevation Lawsuits” and "Road Home Lawsuits."
While it’s not the only basis, many of the lawsuits contend that the money wasn’t used to elevate the home based on the stipulations of the loan. The lawsuits contend, generally, that the homeowner has not responded to requests for documents showing compliance to the loans (i.e. initial or final elevation certificates; or that the compliance documentation was insufficient, incomplete, or not filed within the allotted time period.
The home elevation lawsuits are filed by the law firm of Shows, Cali & Walsh, LLP who represent the Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (OCD-DRU HMGP), with the lawsuits filed in Civil District Court (CDC) in New Orleans.
The lawsuits are being filed in large numbers because there was a deadline by which the work was to be completed and appropriate paperwork and documentation provided. After that date, the statute of limitations “clock” starts. This means that the plaintiff, in this case the State of Louisiana, must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires and they are no longer able to file a lawsuit.
DO NOT IGNORE THIS LAWSUIT!
A lawsuit does not go away if you ignore it. If you do not find legal representation and respond within 15 days of the date you were served the lawyers for the state will seek what is called “preliminary default,” which is the first step towards obtaining a money judgment against you. (Note: If you learn you are in preliminary default, it doesn’t mean you can’t still find a lawyer to represent you.)
The next step will be confirming the default judgment against you, at a hearing before the judge. (NOTE: You will not receive notice of the hearing to confirm the default judgment. Rather, the next notice you will receive from the court after service of the original citation and petition will be the “notice of Judgment”. )
The judgment sought by the state will hold you legally responsible for repaying the loan, as well as paying interest and attorney’s fees incurred by the State of Louisiana in the suit.
Once the state’s attorneys obtain a final judgment against you they will seek to collect the money, which can result in garnishment of your wages, or seizure and sale of your property.
What if I sold the property?
The Agreement governing the Road Home funding provides that the property is not to be sold for a period of three years, unless the transferee receiving the property agrees in the act of transfer to assume your obligations under the Agreement and covenants.
If you did transfer the property, and the act of transfer provides for the new owner to abide by the covenants, then you have a right under the law to bring the new owner or owners into your case, and have the court determine whether they are liable to the state.
Getting More Information on Road Home and Home Elevation Lawsuits.
What follows are links to various resources related to the Road Home Program and the “home elevation lawsuits.” It’s important to note that these links are provided for general informational purposes and not so you can represent yourself, contact the Road Home Program, or even contact their law firm. Representing yourself makes for good television, but it is extremely dangerous. There are laws and legal concepts as well as judicial and procedural rules that most people don’t know and failing to heed these can have an extremely negative impact on your case.
If you’ve been served with a Road Home/Home Elevation Lawsuit, contact Vince Booth by calling 504-482-5292, or you can e-mail him.
Note: Links will open a new tab in your browser.
Resources regarding Road Home and Home Elevation Lawsuits
- Road Home Program – Here, the State of Louisiana, through the Road Home Corporation, provides mostly high level information on the Road Home Program.
- Chapter 3-E – LOUISIANA ROAD HOME HOUSING CORPORATION ACT (Current with effective changes from the 2021 Legislative Session through Act 486) – These are the (updated) laws passed by the Louisiana legislature authorizing the Road Home Corporation.
- Know Your Rights: Road Home Collections – Here, the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services provides information on Road Home collections. (The SLLS provides free legal assistance to qualifying individuals who cannot afford an attorney.)
- Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program – where much of the “Road Home Elevation Money” comes from.
News Stories Regarding the Road Home Program
- WWL-TV / May 29, 2020 / Legal experts say state misled Road Home recipients after Katrina
- WWL-TV / May 29, 2020 / They’re having trouble making ends meet and now the state wants $23,000 back in 4 months
- NOLA.COM / July 18, 2019 / Thousands will have access to new Road Home money, others will be forgiven
- WDSU / December 13, 2018 / ‘It is like revisiting Katrina sticking that knife back in,’ Katrina victim says after being forced to repay Road Home assistance
- FOX 8 / November 8, 2018 / FOX 8 Defenders: State seeks repayment of Road Home money from N.O. resident
- FOX 8 / May 13, 2015 / State to help Road Home recipients resolve compliance issues
- Washington Post (Paywall) / July 6, 2011 / HUD to pay $62M to Louisiana homeowners to settle Road Home lawsuit
If you know of an informational resource regarding Road Home and Home Elevation Lawsuits, please e-mail us with a link.