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Sargent Cain Came Home

Sargent Charles Cain (Ret.) served in Vietnam in 1969. When he came home, he worked at a shipyard as a crane operator and supervisor. But he was exposed to trauma and Agent Orange during his year in the jungle and, over time, his service-connected disabilities left him totally and permanently disabled.

Like so many others in the Lower 9th Ward, the home Sgt. Cain grew up in was destroyed when Army Corps of Engineers levees failed during Hurricane Katrina. Though he started to build a new home, his disaster recovery grant wasn’t enough. When his home was half-built, he ran out of funds.

But then he found out that the Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association—with strong support from individual donors all over the country—had pushed through policies that would get him more money to rebuild! With another $63,000 in his pocket, he finished construction and moved home a few months ago—after fourteen years of sheer determination.

But Will He Be Able to STAY Home?

This summer, every property in New Orleans was scheduled to be reassessed. As soon as the process began, we started seeing problems: inaccurate information being sent to homeowners—or none at all; wildly skewed values from house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood; an entire wealthy section of town that was skipped over altogether.

We knew we had to do something, and it wouldn’t be enough to wait for people to call us. So Margaret, our case manager/paralegal, reviewed the property tax status of every one of the 276 people we have worked with. Then she personally called all of the ones who are at risk.

Sgt. Cain is one of the ones who received the call. Though his assessed value wasn’t too far off, Margaret discovered that he had neither a Homestead Exemption nor an Age Freeze, both of which would make his real property taxes more affordable.

Showing his usual determination, Mr. Cain immediately went to the Motor Vehicle Dept. to get his new address on his driver’s license (qualifying him for the Homestead Exemption) and gathered the information he needed to prove his income (and thus his entitlement to an Age Freeze). M.A., our Housing Director, then accompanied him to the Assessor’s Office to make sure his documents were accepted and he received the tax relief he’s entitled to.

As a result, his real property taxes will be reduced—saving him almost $600 every year for the rest of his life.

So YES, because of his own strength and the generosity of caring people he’s never met, Sgt. Cain will be able to stay in his home.

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