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Congress Has a Great Way to Create New Housing After Hurricane Disasters

After Katrina, expanding tax credits helped the Gulf Coast rebuild affordable rental housing. It can work in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, too.
Local residents ride a horse by a house wiped out by Hurricane Maria in Jayuya, Puerto Rico.
Local residents ride a horse by a house wiped out by Hurricane Maria in Jayuya, Puerto Rico.Carlos Barria/Reuters

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed one disaster recovery package with a special mission in mind. The bill was designed specifically to encourage developers to rebuild or create new affordable rental housing in the Gulf Coast. The plan worked: The 2005 act spurred millions of dollars in new investment in the recovery, creating or restoring tens of thousands of housing units for low-income families.

Congress hasn’t passed another similar disaster recovery bill since. Despite the damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy, efforts to put together the right grab-bag of tax incentives and community grants to rebuild affordably failed to materialize.