DENHAM SPRINGS- Louisiana's Shelter at Home program spends an exorbitant amount of money on basic home repairs. For example, to purchase and install a $38 toilet, federal and state taxpayers are charged $344. $985 for a $200 window air conditioner and $850 for a $97 kitchen sink.
The cost of each service is spelled out in state contracts negotiated with construction companies.
The state calls this "emergency pricing," which includes the cost of items, warehousing, mobilization of work crews, installations and inspections. The program's project manager said Shelter at Home costs half of a similar program used in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Charles Bondy, an independent contractor with decades in the business said the program is too expensive but acknowledged the state likely had little choice.
"I think the labor pool is taking advantage of the demand," said Bondy. " I don't know how to reign it in but it is out of control."
Bondy said given the scale of the amount of available work, state licensed contractors and qualified day laborers are now charging more. In order to guarantee enough workers for Shelter at Home, he said the state likely had no choice but to agree to the high costs.