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GNOUU is a local cluster of UU churches who are revitalizing their faith while rebuilding their city.

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Road Home grants for homeowners PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 June 2008 20:56
An article in the May 27th “Times Picayune” analyzes the effects of the Road Home grants to homeowners.  Because we are all interested in whether such programs achieve a just outcome and in the availability of affordable housing here, I was very interested in the information.  It is complex, but I have summarized it as best I can below.  The article can be found at
The formula for distribution of the federal Road Home funds was developed by HUD and state officials, with HUD having the last word.  In addition to equity, there was significant concern about making the limited funds available go as far as possible.

The formula included two elements – the pre-storm value of the home and, for homes more than 51% damaged, the estimated rebuilding cost at $130 per sq.ft.  The lower of the two numbers was to be used in calculating the grant award.  Other factors included whether the owner received payments from insurance and whether the owner had flood insurance (if not, the grant was reduced).  All grants were capped at $150,000; grants of up to $50,000 were made available for low income owners in addition to the grant calculated using the formula.  HUD intended that the Road Home grants supplement insurance payments to provide compensation to property owners for their property losses, NOT that the grants provide sufficient funds to rebuild.  It was expected that property owners would use loans and other sources to make up the difference.
Throughout the recovery period there have been news articles and letters to the editor complaining about various aspects of the Road Home program, which seems often to have used incorrect property valuations, incorrect damage assessments, or simply not processed the applications in a timely manner.  Those issues are not addressed in this analysis, which is based on 40,000 road home grants which had been awarded through April 15, 2008.
Two results stand out.  1) Because the lower of prestorm value or estimated rebuilding cost was used, the average grant in middle and lower class neighborhoods was less than in more prosperous areas.  This was particularly true in areas which were relatively recently developed, where owners were more likely to have insurance which covered the full value of the property.

However, 2) Because of the $150,000 cap, the percentage of the prestorm value which was actually covered by the grant was lower in more prosperous areas, leaving the owners of more valuable properties with a much higher financial loss.  The article states that “Average Road Home grants were actually higher than the prestorm values of homes in large swaths of poorer neighborhoods…The typical grant recipients in the Lower 9th Ward, St. Claude, St. Roch, the 7th Ward, Central City, Hollygrove and parts of Gentilly collected more than 115 percent of the neighborhood’s median property value.”  This is not explained, but my guess is that the grant recipients were among the more prosperous residents and therefore owned properties more valuable than the median value.
There is a small segment of the Road Home program which addresses small rental properties, but it has apparently been very slowly implemented, and the legislature is now considering transferring funds to the home ownership program.  It seems to me that the big problem with all of this is that the cost to rebuild, combined with insurance costs,  so far exceeds the prestorm value or, for rental properties, the anticipated revenue stream available, that financing rebuilding of affordable housing remains a serious problem – a national problem writ especially large in our recovering City. 
CCUU Bids Erik David Carlson Farewell PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 June 2008 19:43
Erik's Farewell partyOn the last Sunday in May, Erik David Carlson, our intern minister, led our worship service for the last time.  That afternoon, we celebrated his year with us and bade farewell to him and his partner Kimberlee at a wonderful party at the home of Wilma Longstreet – good food, good music, a good time with friends.  The photos below are from the party.  Erik made a tremendous contribution to CCUU, to Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalists, and to our recovering City.  We are grateful to the UUA for funding his internship year with us, and we appreciate all that he did more than we can say.  All our good wishes go with him and Kimberlee – they have a bright future ahead.

More photos on the gallery page HERE
What Is Unitarian Universalism? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 19:10

Unitarian Universalism began within the Christian Church as two separate heresies: belief in the oneness of God (Unitarianism) and belief in universal salvation (Universalism). These ideas, though preceding it, gained followers after the Protestant Reformation in the 1500's and were widely taught in the United States in the 1700's at Harvard College and within the congregationalism of the Pilgrim church.

In 1785 King's Chapel in Boston was the first American church to declare its Unitarianism. Through the years as they were affected by transcendentalism and the rationalist humanists, Unitarianism and Universalism grew further from traditional Christianity and closer to one another and officially merged in 1961.

From their founding both Unitarianism and Universalism were non-creedal, claiming freedom of belief as a basic value. The authority for our individual beliefs is the evidence of our local experience refined through reason and spirit and tested in community. Although those beliefs may range from liberal Christianity to naturalistic humanism, it is probably true that nearly all of us can agree to these four statements:

  1. Each of us has the right and the responsibility to seek his or her own truth.

  2. Our faith, although it may transcend reason may not be contrary to it.

  3. We respect all people for their individual worth without regard to color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation.

  4. We must focus on the needs and purposes of this life rather than an afterlife in which some of us may believe, but for which we have no evidence.

This only scratches the surface, there is a wealth of information about Unitarian Universalism available on the web site of the Unitarian Universalist Association.


Unitarian Universalist Association

GNOUU is a train running on two tracks PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 21 April 2008 11:59
What Is Community Church Doing? What Is Happening with GNOUU?
Around the country many wonder about the recovery progress here in New Orleans.

One of my primary roles during the last few months has been sharing our activities with other UUs. As I visit with them, I find many have no idea about the difficulty of living in this area, or the work being done by the Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalists (GNOUU).

I am sending my answer to the questions above, so those who we do not see will become familiar with our efforts.
Guests from Westport, CT UU volunteer with the UUSC PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 February 2008 13:00

Guests from Westport, CT, UU church, some of whom who are staying at the annex while they volunteer for the UUSC volunteer center. They're enjoying a Sunday evening meal cooked by CCUU members - chicken maquechoux, salad, crawfish bread, cole slaw, cakes, and fruits.

View our guests photo gallery here>>>


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