Has the Baton Rouge Flood governmental response officially become Katrina? And has Gov. John Bel Edwards’ billion-dollar Shelter At Home program, which was meant to restore flooded houses to a functional state such that the residents would be able to live in their houses while making repairs, officially turned into the equivalent of the various clunker government programs instituted after that hurricane?
There might be people who would say no. The evidence isn’t in yet to make a determination. But anecdotally, it doesn’t look good.
This video appeared Sunday, and it’s of a Baton Rouge man going by Montrail Tony on Facebook as he goes through a house that was worked over by the Shelter At Home program. What you see in the video is an example of the quality of work the government is paying for at $15,000 per home for what we’ll call emergency restoration.
Warning: there’s a little bit of salty language in the video as its narrator gets somewhat, shall we say, passionate about the value he perceives in the 15 grand spent on the flooded house in question.
The way we understand the Shelter At Home program, it’s not a grant of $15,000 – it’s a service program. In other words, the general contractor – a company called AECOM, which does large administrative projects like this one (everyone expected that Brown & Root, owned by local tycoon and Democrat political power player Jim Bernhard, would get the contract, but instead it went out of state), then hires several subcontractors, who then hire out the work to service flooded residents who sign up for the program. And the object of the work is to make the houses in question usable to the residents for $15,000 or less. The homeowner isn’t the customer here; the government is.
And how that plays out, as we see on the video, is the contractor who comes out to the house is going to do a minimal amount of work with the cheapest possible materials in order to get paid that $15,000. What the homeowner ends up with is something which doesn’t add any value at all to his ruined house; all the Shelter At Home work will likely have to be ripped out when real repairs are made, so that actually costs more than you’d spend otherwise.
It’s less than worthless over the long haul, even if the response to the homeowner whose house is on the video that, hey, at least you have functional sinks, a toilet and a bathroom shower and you can live in your house now.
Based on this, we can say with confidence that the Shelter At Home program is great – for the contractors who signed up to get paid for Third World repair work. For everybody else? We’re not convinced.