The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced in July that it would provide more than $5 billion in new Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for five Gulf Coast states recovering from last year’s hurricanes in addition to the $11.5 billion it allocated in January.

Loiisiana will get the lion’s share of the new CDBG funds, garnering $4.2 billion, with the remaining $1 billion being shared by Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said the need to rebuild hundreds of thousands of homes was unprecedented, so her state will use the money to help homeowners “repair, rebuild, or sell their homes" through its Road Home program. “Rental housing is equally important,” she added. “We will work to help restore affordable quality apartments and duplexes for our families to come home to.”

About 123,000 Louisiana homeowners are eligible for the funds and owners of about 80,000 apartments in the state can also apply for the money, according to state officials. About 90,000 single-family and multifamily owners have already signed up for the program.

Letter to the editor

Dear Editor:

Nice article on the city of Seattle diverting homes from demolition to affordable housing (July AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE, page 8), but hardly unique. The city of Stevens Point in central Wisconsin and CAP Services (a community development corporation) have been doing this for 15 years. Most recently, when the local hospital expanded and was going to demolish 15 houses, the city convinced the hospital to donate seven of the units to CAP. The city and CAP then moved and rehabilitated the houses into affordable single-family homes using CDBG, city, and HOME funds. These homes were then sold to low- and moderate-income families through CAP’s Lease-Purchase program (financed by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority) or our First Time Home Buyers Program (financed by the Wisconsin Division of Housing). This model was adopted as a strategy for in-filling empty lots throughout the city. The design of the housing that was moved fit into older neighborhoods, but the interiors and infrastructure were modernized to give them market appeal. Nice going Seattle, but it’s been done before! On Wisconsin!

– Karl S. Pnazek, president and CEO, CAP Services, Inc.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be 250 words or less and may be edited for length. Send them to [email protected] or fax them to (415) 315-1248.