Washington, D.C. – September 18, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Sen. David Vitter yesterday offered an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill that would prohibit federal housing assistance from going to households that include drug dealers and members of violent gangs in New Orleans.
“New Orleans has been plagued with some of the highest drug- and gang-related violent crimes in the nation. And as we continue to rebuild in the wake of Katrina, we have an opportunity to rebuild a public housing system that breaks from the old, concentrated centers of drug-related and violent crime that they were in the past,” said Vitter.
Vitter’s amendment is specifically tailored to New Orleans housing assistance and defines housing assistance as any assistance, loan, loan guarantee, housing or other housing assistance provided in whole or in part by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Under current law, the housing authority may already negotiate a way for family members to continue receiving assistance if the individual that is involved in drug-related crimes vacates the home. Vitter’s amendment simply expands on current law to include gang-related crimes.
“Many gangs and drug organizations are run from public housing facilities. The federal government should not turn a blind eye and continue funding the bases for such criminal activity. My amendment works in the spirit of the bipartisan-applauded welfare reforms of the 1990s and encourages individuals and families to take ownership in the betterment of their community,” added Vitter.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly supported another Vitter amendment – with a vote of 73-25 – to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill that put back into law a decade-old federal policy requiring nonworking, able-bodied public housing tenants to do eight hours of community service each month. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives stripped the 1998 provision from this transportation funding bill when it was in the House of Representatives.
“The welfare reforms in the 1990s have received bipartisan praise for their effectiveness and have taught us an important lesson – people succeed when they are given the opportunity to make a personal investment in their community,” Vitter said yesterday. “This amendment simply puts back in place what has already been in the law since 1998 as part of those very popular, obviously effective welfare reforms.”