[StBernard] (no subject)
westley at da-parish.com
Wed Oct 21 21:07:19 EDT 2009
LRA takes preliminary step in drywall compensation program
By Robert Travis Scott
October 21, 2009, 1:31PM
State storm recovery officials said today they are awaiting guidance from
federal agencies before launching a $5 million program to help Road Home
applicants who installed contaminated drywall.
The Louisiana Recovery Authority inched toward preliminary approval of a
legislatively mandated drywall compensation program for homeowners. But the
resolution delays action until more answers are forthcoming from the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There just isn't a federal protocol for how to do it," LRA spokeswoman
Christina Stephens said.
The Legislature passed a bill in the spring calling for the recovery
authority to put $5 million toward a program that would provide financial
relief to homeowners who renovated their houses after Hurricane Katrina with
tainted drywall. Chinese drywall has been blamed for health problems,
noxious odors and invasive corrosion. A shortage of building materials after
the storm led to extensive reliance on the imported wall boards.
To get the drywall program going, the recovery authority slated funds from
its Community Development Block Grants, which the federal government
allocated to Louisiana for storm recovery.
Any state drywall program using the block grants would have to be approved
Also, the recovery authority has not yet figured out who would be eligible
for the program, including how to determine whether a homeowner actually
used contaminated drywall. The authority is looking to the consumer product
safety agency's drywall investigation team for standards of eligibility and
The safety commission has received 1,501 reports of drywall contamination
from residents in 27 states and the District of Columbia. The largest number
comes from Florida with 1,103, followed by Louisiana with 249. The private
Chinese Drywall Complaint Center says those numbers are low because of
under-reporting and do not reflect the extent of the problem.
The Louisiana drywall program would be launched by the state "once a
nationally recognized testing and remediation protocol is approved,"
according to the recovery authority's plan approved Wednesday. That means
the state for now has no application process and no description of who could
"There is no answer right now. There is no methodology," LRA Executive
Director Paul Rainwater told authority board members.
Rainwater recently traveled to Washington, D.C., where he and Lt. Gov. Mitch
Landrieu and state Sen. Julie Quinn, R-Metairie, sought answers from federal
officials on the drywall controversy and other issues.
The state attorney general is collecting information on drywall complaints
from homeowners and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is
gathering information on health concerns.
The LRA's resolution today approves a plan saying that the drywall
initiative would be aimed at applicants to the Road Home, an $8 billion
program that has provided grants to more than 125,000 households for Katrina
and Rita recovery. Rainwater said last month that the program might be
opened to all homeowners with post-Katrina drywall contamination, but the
resolution Wednesday limits the money to Road Home applicants.
Although it contains no details about the drywall program, the one-page
Action Plan Amendment No. 37 will be published on the LRA Web site at
www.lra.louisiana.gov. The agency invites public comment. The authority may
give final approval at a later meeting.
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