Recovery Wins with U.S. House Vote to Extend Incentives for Housing and Renew National Flood Insurance

May 29, 2010

Washington, D.C. – In what Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-02) described as a “huge step forward” for the recovery of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, the U.S. House of Representatives today approved a $113 billion tax extenders package that includes a continuation of tax incentives to rebuild low and moderate income housing and preserve historic structures. The bill also includes an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Cao was among those voting in favor of the bill, which passed 215-204.

In spite of heavy Republican opposition to the bill, Cao had been fighting for passage of these provisions all year, saying that, while costly, they’re too important to the recovery to let lapse, and he made his feelings known in letters to the House Ways and Means Committee in September and April.

The legislation provides a two-year extension of tax incentives for low and moderate housing construction. It extends tax incentives for historic preservation through the end of 2010. Both incentives were created under the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 (GO ZONE) to help the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Among projects that would benefit from the extension is the 500-unit Lafitte housing development in New Orleans. “With the Low Income Housing Tax Credit extension included in the GO ZONE portion of the extenders bill,” Cao said, “a number of housing projects were in jeopardy of being halted or not completed at all. Without these incentives, builders would not have the financial surety to go forward. Developments like Lafitte would have remained empty ground.” The Congressman added, “Passing the extension means housing stock for low and middle income residents will be replaced, and a large part of our community will have the chance to return home for good.”

The bill extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through December, 2010. The extension means homeowners and home buyers will be able to purchase flood insurance throughout the upcoming hurricane season. The program had temporarily lapsed in March when the Senate adjourned for the Spring recess without passing an extension.

As part of continuing efforts to stimulate the economy, the bill also includes a $39.5 billion extension of unemployment benefits through November.

The package now goes to the Senate for further consideration. The Senate is set to take up the bill after the Memorial Day recess.

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