PORT ARTHUR, TX — A $40 million Texas state program intended to assist homeowners in repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Rita has only dispersed money to fix 13 homes, while as many as 15,000 homes still await repairs, according to the Star-Telgram.com. Local officials blamed the state, while state officials in turn pointed to federal regulations. However, the U.S. Department. of Housing and Urban Development, which approves disaster aid programs, replied that the state’s own disaster recovery plan was designed in such a way as to require strict compliance with congressionally mandated requirements, including income certification and environmental clearances. Largely overshadowed by Hurricane Katrina, Rita damaged about 80,000 properties in a 22-county swath of Southeast Texas in September of 2005. In the absence of governmental action, religious organizations have moved in to fix 1,400 homes. They believe that many of the homeowners still needing assistance are elderly, low-income or disabled persons whose unsafe homes are cracking, crumbling, leaking and mold-infested. Read more.

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