Congress Plans Huge Emergency HousingBill

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WASHINGTON - (09/16/05) -- Lawmakers are planning to provide asmuch as $100 billion of emergency funding into the housingmarket--the largest housing bill ever-to help provide bothshort-term and long-term housing for people displaced by HurricaneKatrina. The emergency funding will provide vouchers for displacedresidents of subsidized housing, subsidies for construction of newunits, reimbursements for uninsured losses, and a variety of otherhousing-related expenses, lawmakers said Thursday during a hearingbefore the House Financial Institutions Subcommittee on Housing.Those funds will be targeted at rebuilding New Orleans and otherdestroyed areas, but also at communities all around the countrywhere an estimated one million people have been relocated in thewake of the massive hurricane, according to Rep. Robert Ney,R-Ohio, chairman of the congressional subcommittee Ney, who hasbeen working with consumer groups, industry representatives andfinancial institutions over the past two weeks to develop anemergency plan, estimated as many as 466,000 housing units weredestroyed in the affected areas. But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.,insisted the priority should be to rebuild destroyed housing toallow victims of the storm to return to their homes. "This is notto be a recipe for the de-population of New Orleans," said Frank."One of our goals is for people who lived in that community to beable to return to that community and reconstitute that community."Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the most immediate need is tofind, build or finance temporary housing for about 163,000hurricane refugees who are now living in shelters. "We got to getpeople out of the shelters and into temporary homes, then, ofcourse, build permanent housing," said Waters. "This is an awesometask."

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