The Times-Picayune reports that repeated changes in rules for the Road Home recovery program have made it more difficult for applicants to collect the same grants they were once promised by the program.

At the launch of the program, grant calculations were based on the highest pre-storm value available from various evaluation methods, but by 2007 the state started paying for its own appraisals, prioritizing valuation methods that gave the lowest value. The Times-Picayune reports that the average grant size has plummeted from about $74,000 a year ago to about $59,000, stating that:

Despite new leadership in Baton Rouge, the state has continued efforts to prevent the highest value from always being used. In May, the state agency overseeing Road Home, the Office of Community Development, said the program is using less than the highest pre-storm value to calculate as many as 65,000 grants, half of all grants Road Home is likely to pay out. And multiple state policy changes from December through this month have made it more likely that the program will use lower pre-storm values and decrease grants.

New legislation passed in the last session that could require the Louisiana Recovery Authority to change Road Home rules so all applicants can get the highest pre-storm value in their file, but it awaits HUD approval, and there are doubts the federal agency will allow it. According to the Times-Picayune:

At issue is guidance HUD has sent Louisiana saying that homeowners shouldn't get credit for appraisals they provide that are more than 20 percent higher than the Road Home's own valuation methods. But homeowner advocates are concerned that there's a systematic effort to deny applicants the highest value created by the program itself.