Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) wants to make sure that in the case of Hurricane Sandy, unlike Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of millions in federal funds aren’t misused. He is concerned that homeowners aren’t complying with the requirements for disaster relief.
According to a report issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General, $940.5 million was given to Louisiana homeowners to enable them to elevate their homes in low-lying areas vulnerable to flooding. On average, homeowners received grants of $29,100 to do this, on the condition that they return the money if the work wasn’t done in three years.
Now it’s been over three years since the vast majority of the recipients received the money — but only 15 percent of recipients’ homes are in compliance. Fifty-three percent are not in compliance, while another 30 percent didn’t respond to an inquiry about it. And contra the original agreement, taxpayers aren’t getting the money back: Only $200,000 has been recovered so far from those who aren’t in compliance.
“As the federal government prepares to spend nearly $16 billion on recovery efforts related to Sandy this is a mistake taxpayers, and citizens affected by the storm, can’t afford to see repeated,” Coburn said in a statement.
Coburn also has sent a letter to HUD, requesting that the agency outline how it will prevent another such misuse of funds from occurring when grants are distributed to homeowners affected by Sandy.