By Murray Wennerlund published 9-10-2019 updated 9-26-2019
Just when you thought you knew everything about CDBG-DR grants you learn their is a HUD Grant program called CDBG-MIT which is to give states federal tax dollars to plan and build disaster protections that are to directly assist the citizens of the state. This grant funding is separate from the grant funding homeowners receive. The grant process is nearly the same and policy along with procedures are to be made public by your state. So when you hear the Director of the State of Louisiana OCD-DRU who was appointed by Governor Edwards say he needs to take $10 million (for modeling, see resources) from the CDBG-DR grant program and give it to the States Mitigation Program you all now know this is pure theft of your grant dollars. You will see the state received more federal dollars than homeowners and still the state feels the need to take homeowner grants.
Very little is known about how states manage billions of federal taxpayer dollars designed to assist disaster victims with their recovery. Most disaster victims in the control of state sponsored programs are nearing the breaking point of all rational thinking and seem to just give up when politics crosses into the lives of disaster victims.
HUD offers CDBG-DR grants and it's typically a big number determined on many factors that for the most part have very good checksum. It's when the money reaches the hands of state and local government that we seem to lose control over what the focus on money was all about.
From $1.7 billion which a total of 80% was to reach disaster victims to current numbers of less than 40% reaching the disaster victims, the citizens of the state, the most impacted and most in need of federal assistance are being robbed by their own state and local government.
Who on any state task force in the state of Louisiana knows for certain that the citizens voices are being listened to and having the voices repeated in task force meetings when it comes time to spending the millions given by the American Taxpayers to help other American Taxpayers in their time of need.
Less than 40% of all the disaster funds given to the state of Louisiana for floods in 2016 have been allocated to help the citizens. Even if all federal documents say 80% must be used to assist the states and their appointed members by the states governor have found creative ways to funnel out money to provide simulated disaster recovery efforts in the name of economic development and infrastructure.
The math is simple but seem to never be the same math the state of Louisiana uses.
HUD has approved the state of Louisiana to use these CDBG-DR funds for three main recovery programs under Pub. Law 115-31:
Basic Math shows we have 96% covered based on law and category. The state of Louisiana claimed it's own administrative costs are capped at 4% of the total.
What the state of Louisiana fails to understand that "Outsourcing" is part of their administrative costs and should not come out of the 86% housing budget. But, in fact the Administration and planning budget untouched by outsourcing leaves over $65 million for the state to create programs that assist the state and local governments agenda and not the direct recovery of those in homes and that are today homeless because of the new Louisiana Disaster Recovery Math.
Paying one contractor to administrate the program over $300 million seems to be the state of Louisiana biggest mistake. When they sent out to bid for the administration of the program they were calculating they would need more people than they had during Hurricane Katrina recovery. Fact is, the state OCD-DRU built up it's employee base to manage the project because the governor at the time say outsourcing was too expensive. They hired and held on to over 150 employees and still today have the same numbers if not greater managing the management company at an increased cost of over $300 million.
It was asked years ago, "Do we still need 155 employees at the states OCD-DRU state agency?" The states official answer was and I'll paraphrase, "Yes, we are still working Hurricane Katrina issues and other disasters." That is true, the state renewed Hurricane Katrina contracts to go after families and recapture FEMA grants given to install storm shutters and doors. The state outsourced the million dollar project of recapture in 2018 instead of managing the collections at the state agency level. Millions of tax dollars are being spent on processes the state could be doing under their state 4% of all disaster funds go to administrative costs for the state. This is the new Disaster Recovery math on how to grow state government and play within the spending guidelines of federal agencies. In the end, the tax dollars, all 35% of them do make it to disaster victims. But it's the 65% that should concern the people of our nation. It's Louisiana that is showing other states just how to be "Creative" and say you have 120,000 damaged homes, then say you can only assist 59,000 damaged homes then create a process that allows you to cap the repairs to 16,000. New Math isn't always the best math and the state of Louisiana clearly has New Math in it's policy and procedure manuals unmatched by any other state in the nation.
How high should your finished floor of your new home be from your lowest land grade?
By Murray Wennerlund