The House Appropriations Committee has approved an additional $4.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds, but the appropriators did not earmark it exclusively for Louisiana as requested by the Bush administration.It now appears that Louisiana and Texas, which is seeking $367 million in CDBG funds to repair and rebuild housing damaged by Hurricane Rita, will have to split the pot. Rep. Kevin Brady R-Texas, said it is "unfair" that the supplemental appropriation does not provide enough CDBG funds. "We are hoping to work with the leadership and the appropriators to move these numbers up," Rep. Brady said. Meanwhile, the president's coordinator for Gulf Coast recovery, Donald Powell, testified before a congressional committee that he is telling the largest mortgage lenders CDBG funds will be available to homeowners in the hurricane disaster areas in a "very short period of time." The CDBG funds will enable homeowners to "satisfy some mortgage obligations that they might not otherwise be able to do," he testified. Mississippi officials plan to begin taking housing assistance applications by April 1, but they estimate it could be another three months before the CDBG funds actually reach homeowners.

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