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TX Delegation Letter to HUD on Hurricane Relief Funding

Location: Washington, DC


Below is a letter written by Texas' senior senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and co-signed by every member of the Texas Delegation. The letter, sent to HUD Secretary Jackson, is in direct response to Texas' inadequate hurricane relief funding. The letter is below:

The Honorable Alphonso Jackson
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmentm
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410

Dear Secretary Jackson:

We are writing to express our extreme displeasure and dismay with your announced plan regarding the distribution of the Community Development Fund, created in H.R. 2863, a bill providing emergency supplemental appropriations for hurricane relief in the Gulf of Mexico. The fund is comprised of $11.5 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and was appropriated by Congress for "necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, and restoration of infrastructure in the most impacted and distressed areas related to the consequences of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005."

We find Texas' allocation of $74.5 million to be wholly inadequate and contrary to the spirit, intent, and clear language of the Act authorizing and appropriating these funds. Due to the physical devastation, ongoing relief efforts, and long-term recovery needs across the entire Gulf Coast, Congress decided that, rather than assign funding percentages based on early predictions and estimates, the proper approach would be to create one pool of funds available to all "impacted and distressed areas." These funds were appropriated by Congress to be allocated between the States in a manner acknowledging, not only the needs for restoring infrastructure, but also for disaster relief and long-term recovery.

From your allocation plan announced yesterday, we believe HUD has misinterpreted the Congressional intent of the appropriate administration of the Community Development Fund. Based on these allocations, HUD failed to recognize the relief and long-term recovery needs of actual disaster victims, especially those who have moved to new areas as a consequence of the hurricanes. Had Congress intended to assign funding percentages based on destroyed infrastructure alone, we would have explicitly stated so in the legislation.

Texans opened their hearts, homes and wallets to Katrina victims and then Rita hit us in our own back yard, causing a unique set of circumstances and needs. It is unfortunate that HUD has chosen to ignore the intent of Congress in valuing the ongoing needs of victims. It is absolutely inexcusable that Texas, a State that accepted close to half a million Katrina evacuees, who are still in our State, and suffered substantial destruction from Hurricane Rita, would be allocated less than one percent of the Community Development Fund. The impact on our State will last for years, as adjustments are made.

We urge you to reconsider your allocation and to adopt a more balanced approach to administering the Community Development Fund.

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