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Fair housing groups file lawsuit over alleged Katrina program discrimination

[JURIST] State and national housing advocates filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release, PDF] Wednesday arguing that Louisiana's Hurricane Katrina recovery program, Road Home Louisiana [program website], discriminates against African-American homeowners. The federally-funded program awards grants to homeowners in the lesser of the following two amounts: the pre-storm value of the home or the cost of the damage. Because home values in African-American communities are substantially lower than those of similar homes in white neighborhoods, plaintiffs National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and Greater News Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) [advocacy group websites] contend in the complaint:

African Americans whose property received substantial damage and who qualify for Road Home grants are more likely than white applicants to receive a grant that is based on the pre-storm value of their home. Because the Road Home formula limits grant awards to the pre-storm value of the home where that amount is less than the cost of damage, African-American recipients of Road Home grants are more likely than white grantees to have a gap between their rebuilding resources and the cost to rebuild.
AP has more. From New Orleans, the Times-Picayune has local coverage.

The US federal government has been repeatedly criticized [JURIST report] for its alleged discriminatory treatment of African-Americans in response to Hurricane Katrina. In February the UN called on [press release] the US to put a stop to discrimination against African-Americans who were being evicted from their homes or denied access to other available housing in the wake of the hurricane. A 2007 study [AP report] found that housing discrimination against African-Americans searching for rental property post-Katrina was widespread.

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