08/12/2007 01:25 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Feds Won't Let Us

For all those helpful commenters who've been suggesting over the post-Katrina months that New Orleanians are whiny beggars demanding things from the federal government that they should be doing on their own (like, say, rebuilding the poorly built federal levees or restoring the coastal wetlands), here comes the Times-Picayune with a deadly rebuttal: While New Orleans city is, if anything, overly aggressive in its policy of demolishing damaged houses that have stood ungutted and unrepaired (the TP reported earlier this week that some homeowners who gutted and repaired their residences have found them demolished by the city), the federally-funded (or under-funded) and state-run Road Home program will soon be the largest owner of ungutted, unrepaired, unmaintained homes in the area. Road Home doesn't have enough money to pay off the homeowners it's legally bound to compensate for flooding damage, and so the program can't afford even to do basic maintenance (grass-cutting, e.g.) on the lots of the homes it buys from the owners who choose the buyout option. But the kicker comes from an official of St. Bernard Parish, extremely hard hit because almost half of its homeowners are choosing to sell their ravaged homes:

Taffaro said the parish had proposed handling the maintenance of the properties -- for a fee -- but the Road Home Corp. turned it down. Reaux said federal housing grant rules prevent such an arrangement.

The locals want to do the job. The Feds won't let them.