- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal government will pay $4.2 billion into a program to help Louisiana residents rebuild or sell houses severely damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, officials said yesterday.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also announced that it would provide $1 billion for hurricane-related housing needs in Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and Florida and called on those states to apply for the additional money.

Louisiana’s $4.2 billion will be added to federal allocations that the state has received to fully fund its more-than-$9-billion “Road Home” program for hurricane recovery.

“It was clear to me that Louisiana desperately needs this additional funding to implement its plans to bring its citizens back home,” Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi said in a joint federal and state press release. “HUD will work very closely with Gov. Blanco and the Louisiana Recovery Authority to help pave the road home for thousands of residents desperate to rebuild their own lives.”

Mr. Bernardi planned to announced the grants at an afternoon briefing with Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco in New Orleans.

The “Road Home” program is intended to provide Louisiana residents up to $150,000 to rebuild or sell houses severely damaged by the storms, using grants to cover repair costs that go above what was covered by insurance policies and grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

About 123,000 homeowners and owners of about 80,000 apartments are eligible for the program, state officials have said. About 90,000 have signed up, officials said.

Mrs. Blanco has said that the Louisiana Recovery Authority expects eligible homeowners to begin getting checks by late summer.

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