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Statement From NLIHC President Sheila Crowley on HUD Approved Settlement Reached Between Advocates and the State of Texas
WASHINGTON - June 7 - The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) joins Texas housing advocates in applauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's approval of a settlement between Texas advocates and the state of Texas that will assure that federal disaster recovery funds expended in Texas will protect and benefit people with low incomes, African Americans and Latinos as well as elder and disabled populations.
The Texas Low Income Housing Information Services, an NLIHC state partner, and Texas Appleseed filed both an administrative complaint and a fair housing complaint against the state of Texas because its proposed plan for spending federal disaster funds for Hurricane Ike failed to account for the needs of people with low and moderate incomes and did not adequately prevent discrimination or address fair housing requirements. Last November, HUD rejected the plan and cited many of the concerns the advocates had raised in their complaints in its rejection.
Texas's new proposed action plan was submitted to HUD by June 2. It will allocate more than $417 million in additional funding for housing to benefit low and moderate income families affected by the 2008 hurricanes and will send more than $300 million in additional assistance to some of the hardest hit regions in the state whose housing needs were not addressed in Texas's original disaster action plan. The plan is expected to be approved by HUD without incident because it incorporates changes that HUD urged in its November rejection of the original plan while also addressing the advocates concerns.
The agreement is the result of tireless efforts by housing advocates as well as HUD's strong commitment to ensuring accountability for states in spending federal housing and community development dollars. The revised plan includes innovative measures, such as a series of fair housing initiatives and the "move to opportunity" program. HUD's $1 million "move to opportunity" program will help eligible families from the hurricane affected areas move with Housing Choice Vouchers to areas in the state that offer more jobs and better schools. This agreement will serve as a model for successful advocacy in future disaster recovery efforts across the Gulf Coast.
Advocates from across the Gulf Coast want HUD to extend its commitment evidenced in this historic victory in Texas to states affected by Hurricane Katrina by ensuring federal housing dollars are not diverted to unnecessary or discriminatory projects that will not benefit the most vulnerable populations. Advocates urge HUD to seek equitable resolution of cases pending in Louisiana and Mississippi in ways that similarly benefit families with low and moderate incomes and people of color.