NOLA Bound is like a virtual case management system for people considering a return to New Orleans. Raymond Jetson is the CEO of the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps, a non-profit organization designed to help displaced Louisiana residents return to their home state. Jetson says there are a lot of people who don't know what to expect when they head back to their old neighborhoods, and NOLA Bound will help them make the transition.
"Everyone who desires to return to the city of New Orleans or the metropolitan New Orleans area, deserves the opportunity to do that. Our task is to make certain that it's done in a way that allows people and families to actually have a chance to thrive upon their return home."
NOLA Bound takes displaced residents through a process of first determining whether an individual or family is ready to return to the metropolitan New Orleans area. Jetson says they don't want anyone to not return home simply because of a lack of information.
"Certainly there were media reports of what was happening in the city, but to be able to find out what's happening in my neighborhood; what's happening in terms of rebuilding; what's going on in terms of apartments and what's happening in terms of schools and services that are critical to me and my family. We heard over and over again from people and families that that need for information was critical and unmet."
So that's exactly the information provided by the service. Things like housing, employment, schools, childcare and health care are covered in the assessment. Residents have a comprehensive discussion with their planning partner to assess if they are prepared to return to the region. If the individual or family decides to move back, NOLA Bound helps plan the move, with information ranging from how to reconnect utilities to the latest changes in public transportation. And Jetson says for many people, the transition will be a difficult one.
"For individuals who have not been back to New Orleans since the storm, the truth is that home, while it's always home, is different. New Orleans has changed in a number of ways, obviously because of the storm, but it's still New Orleans."
There are an estimated 34,000 displaced New Orleans residents living in Houston. Jetson says the planners at NOLA Bound can help those residents determine whether now is the right time to return to the city. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.