For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
New Orleans – On day one of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s listening tour throughout New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the secretaries announced hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to Louisiana to stimulate long-term recovery in the wake of last year’s devastating hurricane season and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“Today, we turn the page and start a new chapter in the federal partnership with communities throughout Louisiana,” said Donovan. “HUD will work very closely with our counterparts at the state and local level to make certain families can continue to live and work in the Bayou State, whether it's producing affordable rental housing, supporting our most vulnerable citizens, or stimulating the state’s employment base.”
“Our commitment to the Gulf Coast remains unwavering and our determination to bring to completion many of the projects is still underway,” said DHS Secretary Napolitano. “A lot of progress has been made to help the region recover, but it is abundantly clear that there are still areas where progress has stalled, bureaucracy has set-in, and people continue to struggle. My goal is to eliminate the red tape, help rebuild now and rebuild the region stronger than ever.”
The secretaries made these announcements at a press conference in New Orleans on the first day of their listening tour. See below for detailed announcements from HUD and DHS:
Housing and Urban Development Announcements:
Donovan today announced HUD’s acceptance of the state of Louisiana’s $438 million plan to support long-term disaster recovery following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike last year. Funded through HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, Louisiana's recovery strategy seeks to produce affordable rental housing, help commercial and agricultural businesses, and support coastal restoration. The state will provide more than 70 percent of its allocation to local parishes to support a variety of affordable housing, infrastructure, agricultural, and economic revitalization programs.
In addition, HUD and the state of Louisiana will launch a new five-year, $50 million program to offer permanent supportive housing to approximately 1,000 homeless individuals and families living with disabilities, such as a serious mental illness or substance abuse. These funds will primarily be spent in the greater New Orleans area, although other parishes impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will receive a portion of these funds. HUD will also provide $23 million in rental assistance vouchers to the Louisiana Recovery Authority to support an estimated 2,000 elderly and disabled disaster victims.
Department of Homeland Security Announcements:
Napolitano announced today that FEMA will provide Public Assistance Funding for several facilities in New Orleans that need to be repaired or replaced. FEMA has agreed to provide replacement funding for Police Stations #5 and # 7 and Fire Station #36 in New Orleans, which experienced significant damage during the hurricanes. FEMA also approved $12 million in additional funding to help repair the St. Bernard Parish Water Treatment Plant. FEMA will also provide funding to the Benjamin Franklin High School to help fix the last remaining damaged areas and get the school back to running condition.
Napolitano also announced the creation of two new joint review teams, comprised of FEMA and state personnel, which will be tasked with quickly and fairly resolving disputes under the Public Assistance program. Theses teams will assure a transparent process and promote close coordination between FEMA and the state to identify disputes, address them quickly, resolve cost issues, and expedite final decisions and approvals.
Additionally, Napolitano announced that FEMA will extend the Relocation Assistance Program to May 1, 2009. Families that were displaced from their primary residence in a disaster declared area as a result of Katrina and Rita are eligible for up to $4,000 in reimbursement for relocation expenses through the Relocation Assistance Program. Under the new extension, applicants can file a claim if they incurred relocation expenses between Aug. 29, 2005 and May 1, 2009.
Finally, at the request of the state of Mississippi, FEMA has extended Mississippi’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program project application deadline until June 30, 2009. This extension aligns the Mississippi application deadline with Louisiana's deadline. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is intended to reduce the loss of life and property in future disaster by funding mitigation measures during the recovery phase of a natural disaster. Over the past three and a half years, Mississippi has made significant progress in extremely challenging circumstances to create its program, submit applications to FEMA, and receive over $150 million in funding.