[StBernard] Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin and LRA wrap up Successful Meetings with White House Officials and Cong

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Fri Oct 19 22:11:11 EDT 2007

Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin and LRA wrap up Successful Meetings with White House Officials and Congressional Leaders

Group Optimistic Federal Officials will act quickly to finish the job and fully fund the Road Home

WASHINGTON (October 18, 2007) - Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, New Orleans Recovery Director Ed Blakely, Louisiana Recovery Authority Chairman Norman Francis and Executive Director Andy Kopplin concluded a series of successful meetings with key Congressional leaders and Bush administration officials in Washington, DC today where they urged federal officials to take swift action to address the Road Home funding shortfall.

"We made tremendous progress on Capitol Hill this week, and I am optimistic that the federal government will fully-fund the Road Home program," said Governor Blanco. "Congress and the White House heard our message loud and clear: Louisiana needs your help, and we need it now."

"Congressional leaders have pledged to fully-fund the Road Home program and they demonstrated their commitment to our recovery earlier this year with their swift action on critical measures like waiving our ten percent match. Now, it's a matter of Congressional leaders finding the best legislative avenue to secure full-funding for the Road Home program before it runs out of money in January so our recovery continues to move forward with strength."

To date, the Road Home has received more than 184,000 applications, and more than 62,000 homeowners have received their awards, totaling more than $4.2 billion. At the current rate of grant payouts of 10,000 a month, and at the current average award per grant of $70,000 per homeowner, the Road Home program is projected to exhaust its existing budget just after the first of the year.

"The reception that we received on Capitol Hill was very positive and I am confident that Congress will do all in its power to help fill the gap in the Road Home program," said New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. "I believe that they understand the critical impact of this funding not only for the Road Home program and the city's recovery plan, but also the importance to continuing the momentum of recovery efforts that are underway in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana."

To ensure that each and every eligible homeowner receives the grant they need to repair and elevate their home, Louisiana has requested that Congress provide approximately $3.3 billion in additional funding and issue a legislative directive to FEMA that will allow the state to effectively utilize $1.17 billion of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds that have been allocated to Louisiana but have been tied up in red tape for more than a year.

"I'm encouraged by the response we received in Washington this week," said Kopplin. "We spent a lot of time talking about data and crunching the numbers because the numbers are important, but at the end of the day, this is about finishing the job and making sure every eligible homeowner gets their full grant. In less than 100 days, the Road Home is expected to run out of money, disrupting the awarding of grants and potentially leaving tens of thousands of homeowners and their families without the critical funding they need to rebuild. I believe the key leaders we met with understand this, and they will fulfill the pledge that President Bush made to the American people to 'do what it takes' to rebuild New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast."

Throughout their three day trip to Washington, Louisiana officials met with administration officials and key leaders in the House and Senate including: Al Hubbard, assistant to the president for economic policy, Coordinator of Gulf Coast Recovery Donald Powell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Appropriations Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Caroline Kilpatrick and members of the Black Caucus, and Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel and members of the Democratic Caucus, and the seven members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation who were in Washington DC during the Governor's and Mayor's visit.


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