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Durbin and Obama Ask HUD Secretary to Open Federal Housing to Those Displaced by Tornadoes

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DURBIN AND OBAMA ASK HUD SECRETARY TO OPEN FEDERAL HOUSING TO THOSE DISPLACED BY TORNADOES

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have written a letter asking Alphonso Jackson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to open vacant federal housing facilities to the families displaced by the tornadoes that devastated Springfield and other communities in central Illinois earlier this week.

In their letter, the two senators wrote "The City of Springfield and the Red Cross are doing an assessment on replacement housing for the more than 1,500 homes that were demolished. Preliminary estimates suggest that between 50 and 75 families have nowhere else to turn and are in desperate need. Springfield Housing Authority (SHA) wants to help but needs permission from HUD to utilize the vacant properties for these families. SHA has . . . 71 available properties. We would like the victims of this storm to receive immediate housing assistance if they need it, and we would like this assistance to be provided in an orderly fashion."

Under current law, HUD properties are reserved for use by elderly, low-income and disabled persons only, and before such properties could be occupied by victims of the tornadoes, the federal government must grant an official waiver.

Durbin and Obama say that the City of Springfield is prepared to begin helping families move into the HUD properties as soon as the waiver is approved. Waivers such as the one requested today by the two Illinois lawmakers have been granted in a number of similar disasters including hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes.

March 15, 2006

The Honorable Alphonso Jackson
Secretary
U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20410

Dear Secretary Jackson:

We are writing to you to request that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) open its vacant properties to the families displaced by the recent tornadoes that devastated central Illinois. The City of Springfield and the Red Cross are doing an assessment on replacement housing for the more than 1,500 homes that were demolished. Preliminary estimates suggest that between 50 and 75 families have nowhere else to turn and are in desperate need. Springfield Housing Authority (SHA) wants to help but needs permission from HUD to utilize the vacant properties for these families. SHA has 27 elderly apartments, 26 elderly and disabled apartments and 18 homes, totaling 71 available properties.

We would like the victims of this storm to receive immediate housing assistance if they need it, and we would like this assistance to be provided in an orderly fashion. We have several questions for you:

# Can the Springfield Housing Authority make these properties available to the tornado victims?

# Will the Springfield Housing Authority have to follow the standard recipient income requirements, or can the SHA receive a waiver from HUD due to the extraordinary circumstances we face?

# What is the appropriate length of stay for the displaced families?

# How will the screening process take into account the struggles of some families in providing the usual documentation?

# What will happen to the families that are currently on the waiting list for housing?

Thank you for your attention to our request. We look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Richard Durbin
U.S. Senator

Barack Obama
U.S. Senator

http://durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=252628&&

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