Friday, August 28, 2009

Disappointment Is

Lots of cities have blight problems. Lots of cities have school problems. But what happens when they are one in the same? New Orleans has 40 school buildings boarded up and mouldering, and being caught at the crossroads of ineffective government is only keeping the problem around.

The buildings were in bad shape before the flood. They are in worse shape after the flood. They are in even worse shape now that nothing has been done to them for 4 years. Why not? Because Feds, state and local officials are still haggling over how much damage was done, and how much federal aid that damage qualifies for, and where the money for remediation will come from.

Until that decision is made, neither the locals nor the state can demolish the buildings. Doing so would remove many chances of recieving remediation money. Without the remediation money, the buildings cannot be effectively renovated. I don't know if this would be considered a "donut hole" or a "catch-22" but I do know that it is all FUBAR.

If I was a health care reform opponent, looking to promote the idea that government cannot fix anything, I'd have my ass down in New Orleans with a camera and a pile of FOIA requests.

.

3 comments:

patsbrother said...

"Until that decision is made, neither the locals nor the state can demolish the buildings. Doing so would remove many chances of recieving remediation money. Without the remediation money, the buildings cannot be effectively renovated."

I think you mean "effectively replaced." I doubt one would renovate a demolished building.

In complete seriousness, without sarcasm, can you explain the concept of remediation as it applies to the federal government and New Orleans's schools? (Or provide a link that does so?)

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

As I understand it: if the structure is considered more than 51% damaged by the flood, it qualifies for certain FEMA money to be demolished and replaced or renovated.

The state and the feds are still in negotiations about the damage to the structures. Four years later.

If the state tears down the building, they lose any chance of renovation, and risk losing the value of the building. Since a 51% destroyed building is worth more FEMA money than a torn down structure (especially if that building is historic), they are simply leaving these buildings alone until negotiations are complete.

This is an example of both the state and the feds screwing up. Since they can't finalize negotiations, the state has a financial incentive to leave mouldering property alone, neither renovated nor replaced. The feds have a financial incentive to leave mouldering property alone, because they will be able to claim additional damage was the fault of four years of neglect rather than flooding.

patsbrother said...

I guess my questions is: what is the precise reason that this system of obtaining government funds is in place? Is this part of the $3 billion figure of funds I remembered being parried about, or is this something else? Will the City still get some funds if the damage isn't 51%, and if so do you know how much of a difference that is? (Is it worth not have the school for half a dozen years or so?)