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You are here News Domestic (USA) A quarter of Katrina aid money still unspent

A quarter of Katrina aid money still unspent

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One fourth of Katrina money still unspentMore than a quarter of the $20 billion in Housing and Urban Development relief funds that were earmarked for Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina remains unspent five years after the storm, a fact noticed by at least one congressional leader who's eager to spend it elsewhere.

In June, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, ordered data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on how much remains unspent from the Community Development Block Grants that were earmarked in hurricane relief funds for Gulf Coast states after the 2005 storms. The answer: about $5.4 billion, comprising $3 billion of the $13 billion earmarked for Louisiana and $2 billion of the $5.5 billion for Mississippi.

Coburn suggested some of these funds could be used to help cover federal budget deficits and said that "serious questions need to be asked about whether this money was appropriately designated as emergency funding."

Officials in Mississippi, however, said that the unspent money is earmarked for needed recovery projects and that they are moving as fast as federal red-tape, litigation and arbitration and other hurdles will allow.

"We've rebuilt our entire infrastructure and have broken ground on every major building project," said Mayor Tommy Longo of Waveland, Miss., ground zero for the storm.

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