Whip Clyburn on Passage of the Gulf Coast Housing Bill

March 21, 2007
From Democratic Whip Clyburn:

Clyburn on Passage of Gulf Coast Housing Bill

WASHINGTON, DC--House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today released the following statement on the passage of H.R. 1227, the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act.

"Congress is helping the communities of the Gulf Coast put out the welcome mat to the thousands of people who rent and live in public housing and have not been able to return home since the storms. Though housing rehabilitation and demolition are well underway, rental prices in the region have increased by 39 percent over the year and home sale prices have spiked in suburban parishes. The residents of the Gulf Coast weathered the indifference of this administration and can now be bolstered by the steps taken in Congress to help people return and help the region rebuild. As the head of the Hurricane Katrina and Rita Recovery Working Group I believe this bill makes great strides in expanding affordable housing opportunities to those who want to return home."

The legislation approved today will speed up the repair and rebuilding of homes and affordable rental housing; ensure continued rental assistance to both families that have moved back to their home towns and families displaced by the hurricanes; and provide reimbursements to communities and landlords that were generous in providing assistance to hurricane evacuees in the aftermath of the storms.

The Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act is the first of several measures expected to move through the House of Representatives this month. Democrats are working to deliver on their promise to bring a new direction to the region and help their fellow Americans recover from the largest natural disaster in the nation's history.

The House is expected to consider an emergency spending bill tomorrow which includes additional funding for recovery in the Gulf Coast. The legislation includes:

$1.3 billion for levee repair in the New Orleans;

$37 million for hurricane and coastal restoration in Mississippi;

$3.4 billion in FEMA funding requested by the President;

$910 million to cover the costs associated with waiving the local match requirements under the Stafford Act for Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas;

$140 million in assistance for farmers and ranchers affected by the hurricanes;

Elimination of the special rules that prohibit loan forgiveness for Katrina and Rita related Community Disaster Loans.

Extends FEMA's ability to pay utility costs through February 7, 2008

Extends the availability of previously appropriated Title XX Social Services Block Grant funds through September 30, 2008

Extends the Secretary of Education's authority to waive certain regulations for emergency assistance to reopen schools in hurricane-impacted school districts for another year

Extends the Disaster Voucher Program, which provides Section 8 vouchers to low-income residents who moved to other parts of the country to December 31, 2007.

$120 million for disaster relief for fishing industries on the Louisiana Gulf Coast

$30 million for colleges and universities

$30 million for schools most severely impacted by the hurricanes to help them recover to normal operations

$25.1 million to allow the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program to continue to make and service disaster loans to homeowners and businesses, including those affected by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.

Video from the debate >>

Text of the bill >>