The Thursday post on this blog mentioned the comprehensive legislation Congress is crafting to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Catholic Charities has been monitoring this initiative. It reported in its 09 March edition of its email update, Washington Weekly, this progress.
Update on Gulf Coast Legislation: House Committee Passes Comprehensive Katrina Legislation
By a vote of 50-16, the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee approved The Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery Act of 2007 (H.R. 1227) introduced by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), which addresses federal housing needs for those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The bill that passed out of committee would block demolition of damaged public housing in New Orleans until the government has a plan to replace it and grant displaced public housing tenants an absolute right of return. The bill also would require the Housing Authority of New Orleans to reopen enough housing — at least 3,000 units — to accommodate the tenants by Aug. 1, 2007.
At the request of Governor Babineaux Blanco, $1.175 billion in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding for the Road Home program would be converted into Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, freeing the money from federal red tape that prevented its use in addressing the state's vital housing needs. Several amendments were rejected. Most notably, the panel rejected an amendment by Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), to require those receiving housing vouchers under the bill to work at least 20 hours per week in order to receive assistance. The amendment sparked intense debate during the markup for a number of reasons, including its assumption of the availability of work in disaster-ravaged areas.
The bill will now go to the full House for consideration. Catholic Charities USA will keep you updated on this progress.
For more information and a complete list of provisions in the bill, please contact Ruth White, Director of Housing and Community Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flickr Photo by drp used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.