June 21, 2007

Banking Chairman Dodd and Senator Landrieu Introduce Comprehensive Legislation to Help Gulf Coast Communities and Families Recover from Hurricane Katrina

Washington – Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., today introduced a comprehensive bill to help people and families hard-hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rebuild, strengthen and preserve their communities, homes, and lives.
    “Katrina wreaked tremendous havoc and damage, but it couldn’t wash away and destroy the resilience of the people of the Gulf Coast. To fully recover, families there need a place to call home,” said Dodd. “This measure will help jump-start the economy by providing families with the tools to repair, rehabilitate, and rebuild their homes. In short, it invests in the people who live in the Gulf region, and by doing so, invests in a brighter future for both them and our nation. Senator Landrieu deserves enormous credit for her efforts here to bring new hope and new support to the survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”
Senator Landrieu said:
    “Following weeks of collaborative work with colleagues, Louisiana families and other key stakeholders, the bill Senator Dodd and I are offering builds on a strong foundation crafted by Congresswoman Waters, Congressman Baker and Chairman Frank. Like the House bill, this legislation guarantees the replacement of hurricane-devastated public housing and ensures that all those who wish to return home will have the opportunity to do so. Both bills sound a loud and clear call for bringing our people home and making our communities whole again. But I am particularly proud that the Senate bill picks up where the House left off and goes several steps further. It increases funds for property acquisition, mortgage assistance, low-income housing and community redevelopment; it opens a door for more innovative, independent management of New Orleans public housing; and it begins to lay the groundwork for saving the Road Home. Our bill is a comprehensive plan with significant promise for those still waiting and wanting to move home, and we will not give up our fight until the promise is fulfilled.”
The legislation, the Gulf Coast Recovery Act of 2007, will, among other things, authorize funds to repair, rehabilitate, and replace lost or damaged affordable housing; continue temporary housing assistance to evacuees; and provide rental assistance so that families living in unhealthy FEMA trailers can move into safe and decent housing. The legislation will also provide funding to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority to acquire vacant and abandoned properties to jumpstart community redevelopment efforts. When Katrina hit, 53 percent of housing units in Orleans Parish were occupied by renters, and 56% of all rental units were flooded yet little assistance has been targeted to this population. Of almost 5200 public housing units occupied before Katrina hit, only a little over 1300 public housing units have been reopened As of April of this year, only 52 percent of hospitals in New Orleans were open; only 33 percent of child care centers were open; and only 45 percent of public schools were open. The legislation would strengthen housing and community development efforts to ensure that people can come back to their homes, their jobs, and retain and restore important community resources. The bill is supported by the NAACP, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, ACORN, the National Association of Homebuilders, and many local and national organizations.
Click here for a summary of the bill and a list of supporters.