Today, Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Louisiana State Governor Bobby Jindal regarding the issue of federal funds aimed at supporting Louisiana's recovery efforts being redirected to provide upgrades to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The letter urges the state to abort the ill-advised plan of diverting funds from badly needed housing programs which were allocated to assist first-time home buyers.
Congressman Richmond released the following letter:
March 28, 2012
The Honorable Shaun Donovan
Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
The Honorable Bobby Jindal
Governor, State of Louisiana
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Dear Secretary Donovan and Governor Jindal:
I am writing to draw your attention to a matter of serious concern that was brought to my attention by the Chairman of the Louisiana House of Representatives Select Committee on Hurricane Recovery, Rep. Jared Brossett. During a committee hearing yesterday, representatives of Governor Jindal's administration discussed their intent to redirect federal funds aimed at helping the state recover after Hurricane Katrina--more specifically, money intended to provide soft second mortgages to first-time home buyers--directly or indirectly, to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is my firm belief that this would not be the best use of these funds and would send the wrong message to the local communities and citizens who continue to rebuild.
During yesterday's hearing, administration officials defended the decision to shift funds from first-time home buyer assistance programs to the Superdome. While I understand the importance of investing in the Superdome, I do not believe additional investment of federal dollars in the Superdome exceeds the need for investment in homeownership programs at this time. These programs are critical for continued recovery after Hurricane Katrina, and give many Louisianans access to the American dream. Additionally, these programs are integral to the blight reduction efforts underway in many jurisdictions throughout the state. Much progress has occurred in our recovery, however, the need for these critical programs remains.
Again, I urge the state to abort the ill-advised plan of diverting funds from badly needed first-time home buyer programs to the repair and upgrade of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In the event the state attempts to move forward with this plan, I wholly expect the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to use every authority it possesses to ensure this transfer does not take place. The needs of Louisiana citizens should be the utmost priority.
Cedric L. Richmond
Member of Congress