BATON ROUGE (Jan. 29, 2008) – The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) has officially designated the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps as the lead organization on human recovery matters for the state, according to a new agreement to coordinate the state’s recovery and transition residents from temporary FEMA housing sites to more sustainable housing. The LRA is seeking funding for additional case management and other needs to serve the families affected by this housing transition.“Governor Jindal charged the LRA with identifying and finding solutions to critical problems in Louisiana’s recovery. As we move closer to the day when FEMA closes its trailer sites, the remaining residents are increasingly at risk of being left in substandard housing or, even worse, homeless,” said LRA Board Member Calvin Mackie. “We know that the Recovery Corps has the greatest knowledge of on-the-ground challenges facing these residents and a proven track record of serving families, making it the best agency to identify needs and coordinate recovery planning to this vulnerable population and to work directly with our federal partners.”
The LRA and the Recovery Corps, a nonprofit corporation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Friday outlining each organizations’ roles and officially designating the Recovery Corps as the state coordinator of human services, giving it the authority to work directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to coordinate recovery planning services as evacuee households transition from temporary living situations to sustainable housing.
“The Recovery Corps has served tens of thousands of families, many living in FEMA trailers, since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck Louisiana. We are encouraged by the leadership from Gov. Jindal and the LRA on transitioning families out of FEMA trailer communities and look forward to a productive partnership with our state government partners to assist those Louisiana citizens with great genuine need,” said Raymond A. Jetson, chief executive officer of the Recovery Corps. “A focused, well-funded and coordinated partnership approach will yield the best, most-effective results for Louisiana’s citizens.”
Since the hurricanes of 2005, FEMA has been providing temporary housing for displaced residents, including operating many group trailer sites across the state. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began managing the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to assist residents in finding sustainable housing as FEMA closes its trailer sites.
Governor Bobby Jindal tasked the LRA with streamlining the state’s recovery and identifying critical problems preventing the state from moving forward. The agreement with the Recovery Corps is part of this charge, which started when Jindal named LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater as his appointed representative to FEMA for Katrina and Rita recovery.
To ensure that Louisianans smoothly transition into more sustainable housing, the LRA and its state partners, including the Recovery Corps, the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) and the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency (LHFA), began working at the end of 2007 with HUD and FEMA to determine the best way for all organizations to work together to most effectively transition families from FEMA trailer communities while ensuring that they have the services needed for a successful transition.
Under the agreement, the LRA will convene necessary state agencies to address this transitional housing issue, represent the Governor’s office to the group, establish work plans and timelines for the partners and serve as the primary communicator for Louisiana to ensure that the Governor’s office is apprised of ongoing challenges, opportunities and needs and also to engage federal agencies, including FEMA and HUD, to address necessary waivers or policy changes and request additional resources as needed. The LRA and Recovery Corps will also communicate gaps in resources to the Governor and Legislature.
The Recovery Corps will be the lead agency to coordinate services and case management provided by FEMA, state agencies and all non-profit organizations assisting evacuee households remaining in temporary FEMA housing on behalf of the state, identify needs of these displaced households and gaps in resources and work with partner agencies to establish protocols for reintegrating those impacted by disaster into communities including housing and community service infrastructures.
The Recovery Corps also will report on its progress by tracking the number of households served, demographic information on these households and progress on attaining household goals. The Recovery Corps is finalizing a data sharing agreement with FEMA that would give it access to information about the remaining residents of FEMA trailer villages. Without this data and adequate funding, effective transitioning of households out of FEMA trailer communities cannot take place.