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NEW ORLEANS-Two years after Hurricane Katrina came on shore to ravage the Gulf Coast, thousands of people remain displaced from their homes, both single-family houses and apartment rentals. Although a group of activists and residents from the Gulf Coast are in Washington, DC this week to testify before several congressional committees, organizations like the National Low Income Housing Coalition aren’t too hopeful that resources will soon become available for housing replacement.

According to the coalition, 71% of the 300,000 homes destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were affordable housing. Two years after the hurricanes, at least 106,000 of mostly low-income families remain displaced.

Sheila Crowley, president of the Washington, DC coalition, says pieces of legislation that could help with affordable housing reconstruction are HB 1227 and SB 1668. Basically, both versions of the Gulf Coast Recovery Act of 2007 call for one unit of affordable housing to be built for every unit of demolished public housing.

“What the bills do is set up the structure by which public housing can come down and be rebuilt in phases so people can return home and live there. Then while housing is being rebuilt, they can be part of the process of design and rebuilding,” Crowley says.

The House bill has passed, but Crowley says the Senate bill has been stalled for awhile. Crowley, who is testifying before various committees this week, tells GlobeSt.com that there were signs of movement on the bill until Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Metairie, LA began asking questions. Local media claim Vitter’s difficulty with the bill, as it stands, is the act requires immediate construction of 3,000 temporary or permanent housing units, regardless of how many families plan to return to New Orleans. The senator also has expressed concern about the one-to-one provision to replace public housing units, even if they were unoccupied at the time of Katrina, as well as the quality of the housing to be constructed.

Crowley stresses it’s difficult for displaced families to return to a city where there is little or no housing available. And while federal grant money has been distributed to Gulf Coast states for rebuilding, she says not much of it is finding its way to redevelopment of affordable housing, but rather, has gone to single-family homeowners. Additionally, she says there hasn’t been much oversight from the federal level to direct where most of those dollars have been.

“Rebuilding in general has been slow,” Crowley says. “But specifically, rebuilding of affordable rental housing has been non-existent.”

Crowley’s organization and other activists this week focused on presenting the seriousness of the housing issues still facing Gulf Coast residents to Congress. But, she believes not much movement is happening on the affordable housing front and won’t in the near future. “Until some decision is made to strengthen federal oversight of dollars and until politics is pulled out of this, we’ll be muddling along in the same state for some time,” she says.

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