News Story (Louisiana, Mississippi)
August 29, 2015
READ THE FULL STORY HERE
Tags: Disaster Recovery, Hurricane Katrina
Organizations mentioned/involved: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS)
Many New Orleanian homeowners who have never had to worry about formal paper trails are struggling through the same predicament. Legal aid organizations are swamped with housing cases like Duplessis’s.
“Our housing advocacy work and legal work…kind of exploded after Hurricane Katrina,” Laura Tuggle, civil legal aid attorney and executive director of the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, said. According to Tuggle, out of about 140 legal services organizations in the whole country, hers alone did more than a quarter of all probate cases — those related to housing ownership — in 2008. Even now, her organization operates a weekly clinic on wills and successions that has six to eight appointments a week.
This, she says, has been the biggest problem facing homeowners trying to get home after the storm. “One thing Katrina really taught us and opened our eyes to is the importance of people clearing title when someone has passed away in their family,” or in other words making sure the legal paperwork is completed to formally pass on ownership. Many people in New Orleans have been living in the city for generations, informally passing houses down between them. “It was just this tremendous barrier for folks to be able to access any kind of rebuilding assistance or even insurance proceeds or FEMA help,” she explained.