May 3, 2006
This week the Senate is considering an emergency supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year. The $106 billion measure adds funding for both military operations and relief and rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast. The bill (HR 4939) includes $209 million in additional funding for rent subsidies targeted to rebuilding efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. While these housing funds are desperately needed, it is unclear whether or not resources can be effectively targeted to evacuees with disabilities (including serious mental illness) seeking to return to their communities. Many of these evacuees are still in temporary or substandard housing 9 months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast.
In order to ensure that these additional housing funds included in the Senate supplemental spending bill reach those most in need, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has introduced an amendment directing that $100 million of this $202 million allocation be directed to project-based rent subsidies tied to the development of new permanent supportive housing units across the Gulf Coast.
As project-based rent subsidies, there would be greater accountability to ensure that the rent subsidies are tied to the additional Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) that Congress allocated for parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi last year. This would further allow new housing financed by these tax credits to target individuals living on SSI benefits. The Landrieu Amendment would also provide federal funding for a critical piece of the housing and redevelopment plans established by both the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans. Finally, the amendment would establish a priority on supplemental housing funds serving those who were displaced from HUD (Housing and Urban Development) assisted housing and are now at risk of homelessness.
Advocates are encouraged to contact their Senators and urge support for the Landrieu Amendment to the FY 2006 supplemental spending bill. Remind Senators that the Landrieu Amendment:
All Senate offices can be reached at 202-224-3121.