WASHINGTON, DC-There are at least 150,000 families along the Gulf Coast that remain displaced after the hurricanes in 2005–and the federal and state programs put in place to help them are not meeting their needs, according to Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Crowley spoke Tuesday to a Congressional committee on the issue.

The House Financial Services Committee convened hearings to examine the federal government’s response to the housing needs of people along the Gulf Coast who lost homes after the 2005 hurricanes. Beyond Crowley, a number of witnesses testified before the committee.

Crowley noted that at least 70% of the 300,000 homes that were severely damaged or destroyed by Katrina were affordable to low-income families. The red tape associated with many of the programs, such as FEMA’s rental assistance program, caused a great deal of confusion and wrongly terminated many of the recipients last year, she said.

Crowley offered a number of suggestions for the agencies including a comprehensive review of all households whose temporary housing assistance was terminated. Congress, she also advised, should enact GSE regulatory reform legislation that includes an Affordable Housing Fund that for the first two years would direct resources to states where the housing supply has been affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

“Clearly more resources are needed if the Gulf Coast is to have enough housing for the people who live there now and the people who will come there in the future,” she said. “To date, no resources have been dedicated to rental housing for people with incomes below 30% of the area median.”

Kirk Tate, CEO of Orion Real Estate Services, on behalf of the National Multi Housing Council, testified as well as Ghebre Selassie Mehreteab, co-chairman & CEO of NHP Foundation; Edgar Bright, president of Standard Mortgage Corp. on behalf of Mortgage Bankers Association; and Margery Austin Turner, director of the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities.

Other witnesses testifying before the committee include officials from the HUD, FEMA, Louisiana Recovery Authority, Mississippi Development Authority and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. Representatives from Louisiana State University, Enterprise Community Partners, Mississippi State Conference NAACP, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, Residents United, Advancement Project and UNITY of Greater New Orleans also provided testimony.

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