What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Houston lawmakers blast pace of Katrina, Rita housing

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Two Houston lawmakers upbraided federal and Texas officials for their slow response to finding replacement housing for victims of hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, called the efforts "a complete failure." Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, went further. "Some heads really should roll for letting this go on and on and on," he said at an investigative hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee.

Jackson Lee and Green noted that thousands of Texans have been housed for more than three years in trailers laced with the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde.

"HUD and FEMA are wrapped around this failure," Jackson Lee told state and federal emergency response officials. "The state of Texas has failed, plain and simple."

"The simple question I ask you: Why are people still in trailers in 2008?" Jackson Lee demanded.

"Madam, you are correct," said Nelson Bregón, of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "There are people still residing in trailers who should not be living in trailers."

During the afternoon-long hearing, there were several examples of federal agencies and Texas officials pointing the finger of blame at somebody else.

HUD's Bregón testified that the housing situation "is FEMA's responsibility." He said HUD is "very concerned" and is "working with the states." He called the situation "a travesty."

A Texas official defended the performance of Gov. Rick Perry, a target of Jackson Lee's ire.

Michael G. Gerber, executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, said federal aid was only a fraction of state costs.

Jackson Lee was not convinced: "People are living in a disaster because of your inaction," she said.

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