A Continued Response
Pictured Above: Ms. Betty Bell, L9WHA Board Member, celebrating the successful appeal of her property taxes in front of her home in the Lower 9th Ward.
Hurricane Ida RecoveryContinues
Living in the Gulf South with the real threat from the increasing number of storms, organizations must work year round to help residents prepare for the unexpected while also preparing themselves to assist with recovery as soon as possible. With each storm, the longer it takes to receive adequate assistance, the level of damage in the neighborhood increases. This reality is the driving force behind the Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association (L9WHA) Preservation work. At the L9WHA we work each and every day to help families and L9 residents have the capacity to handle any storm that life may throw at them.
Over the past 15 years, the L9WHA has worked tirelessly with residents, directly aiding them to prepare their homes in case of disaster. The preservation team has helped install green infrastructure to prevent flooding, partnered residents with local nonprofits to ensure their homes are structurally sound, and worked with countless neighbors to determine if they qualify for a reduction in their real property taxes. We have also gained an unprecedented amount of experience working with government agencies to change discriminatory policies. So when Ida hit, we partnered the relationships we had built with our experience with governmental agencies to make sure homeowners had equitable access to federal funding and insurance monies. As such, the L9WHA preservation team has spent countless hours assisting homeowners to apply for FEMA aid, apply for assessment reductions from hurricane damage, and apply for permanent homestead exemptions and age freezes. Plus, we were able to serve as the only source of internet service and photocopying abilities for weeks after the storm.
“Homeowners contact us because they know we are willing to go the extra mile to make sure they can remain in their homes. As soon as phone service was restored in the Lower 9, many homeowners called my cell phone. People wanted to share their information with an organization they could trust.”
Cynthia, L9WHA Outreach and Client Service Speicalist
Progress with the Assessor’s Office
Although it has been over two months since Hurricane Ida made landfall, we are still working daily with homeowners to secure estimates from contractors, file appeals with FEMA and insurance companies and challenge property tax assessments. When Hurricane Ida hit, it damaged phone and internet services in most of the Lower 9 for over a week. So, when we received word from the Assessor’s Office about the reduction of real property taxes for homes that had received damage, we knew we had to spring into action. Our preservation and outreach teams began meeting to ensure homeowners received the information needed to file for this reduction. We sent out press releases to the media, conducted block canvassing, met with seniors at the local Senior Center, conducted a phone bank and hosted neighborhood walk-in clinics to make sure the information was spread far and wide. And, the L9WHA's years of policy and advocacy efforts with the Assessor’s office improved his communication about the possibility of a reduction in property tax assessments due to Hurricane Ida damage. Through these efforts, we were able to make sure all L9 residents knew about the possibility of this reduction.
A Real Impact
Ms. Bell's and Ms. Lebeauf's stories are just two examples our continuous work with homeowners and the assessor’s office. In fact, you may remember Ms. Bell. We told you her story a few years ago after we partnered with her to get Road Home money released so she could rebuild after her home was taken in Katrina. Since that time, Ms Bell has been serving as a member of the L9WHA board and through that partnership we discovered that her taxes were higher than any other house in her block; even though her house was smaller than the other houses, her taxes had been assessed higher. As a result, the home she fought so hard to have rebuilt was being threatened to be taken again, but this time at tax sale. Consequently, over the last couple of years we have worked with Ms. Bell to file the appropriate appeals was with the LA Tax Commission and her appeal was fnally granted and her taxes have been lowered. With the recently granted appeal based on Fair Market Value in her area and her Age Freeze, Ms. Bell has been granted a refund for 2020 property taxes, and her house will be permantly safe from being taken by any future inflated tax bills.
And just this month another L9 resident, Ms. Lebeauf, has finally received an overdue disability and age freeze as well. The L9WHA preservation team worked with Ms. Lebeauf to not only receive the discount she deserved moving forward, but that she would receive a tax adjustments for 2020 and 2021 as well. Though our work in contacting the Department of Revenue and submitting her application for a refund for both tax years. We are proud to say the homeowner has received two refund checks, and her house has also been permantely made safe from being taken at tax sale.
“Money comes when you need it, not when you want it”.
She wanted to make sure she let us know how grateful she was to our organization for helping her, and we wanted to pass that message onto you! It is becuase of YOU and your partnership with us and the L9 homeowners that any of this work is possible - both throughout the year and when disaster has struck.
“Assisting homeowners at times like these fit with the mission of the L9WHA. We will continue to advocate for equitable practices and effective communication from the Assessor’s Office. Our goal is to make sure every homeowner in the Lower 9 receives an adequate property tax assessment.” GaynellBrady, L9WHA Executive Director
We Need You TODAY!
To partner with us in building L9 resident capacity in 2022 and enabling us to continuing fighting for equity in our historic neighborhood, become a susatining donor TODAY through our End of the Year campaign!