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Gulf Coast hurricane housing bill clears House committee.

A measure intended to provide comprehensive housing relief for Gulf Coast communities affected by the 2005 hurricanes overwhelmingly cleared the House Financial Services Committee in March.

Passage of the bill--the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007 (H.R. 1227)--out of the committee by a bipartisan vote of 50 to 16 sends the measure to the House floor for a vote.

H.R. 1227 is designed to provide increased flexibility for already allocated funds; provides new oversight of existing programs; preserves public housing and assists evacuees with rental housing; and provides support for landlords and local communities that assisted evacuees with housing, according to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), chair of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. Waters is also the bill's sponsor.


"This bill will allow for the use of certain monies to be used as matching funds to provide necessary waivers, and add over $1 billion in aid transferred from FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to those who need it most. Additionally, reporting requirements in this bill will help speed up subsidies to homeowners to rebuild their homes," said Waters.

"Most importantly, this bill will create the opportunity for residents of public housing to be able to return from cities around the country to their everyday lives," she said.

Among other things, the bill provides much-needed flexibility for use of previously appropriated federal funds to speed up recovery efforts by freeing up $1.2 billion in funds for Louisiana's Road Home Program--from which FEMA is currently withholding use--by transferring the funds to the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) account, said Waters.

The bill also requires that the Louisiana Recovery Authority--the entity that administers the Road Home Program--report on its progress every 30 days.

The committee's bipartisan passage of H.R. 1227 "means we will reverse the last 18 months of inaction in housing policy in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), House Financial Services Committee chairman.

"What we did here today is significant; we have committed ourselves to rebuilding housing in the Gulf Coast, and I look forward to working with our leadership to bring this to a House vote soon," Frank said.
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Title Annotation:Briefing Book
Comment:Gulf Coast hurricane housing bill clears House committee.(Briefing Book)
Publication:Mortgage Banking
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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