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Renters, Public Policy Organizations Oppose Hunt's Flood Relief Plan

Posted December 9, 1999

— Governor Jim Hunt says more money is needed to help victims of Hurricane Floyd. He has called a special session so lawmakers can approve $830 million in aid, but some people say the money will not go to those who really need it.

Christmas for Mattie Jones and her husband will be spent in a FEMA travel trailer in Rocky Mount. Their Princeville rental home was destroyed by flooding, but only a small portion of the Governor's Floyd aid package will go to renters like Jones.

"I lost everything," Jones said. "If he could do for the homeowners, by God, be generous to everybody, not just the homeowners, because we need a place to stay too."

Forty public policy organizations are opposing the governor's package because they say it does not help Floyd's poorest victims.

"Almost half of the properties destroyed by floyd were rental homes, but only six percent of the money in the governor's proposal address rental assistance or renters," said Chris Fitzsimon of theCommon Sense Foundation.

"There's always a shortage of affordable rental housing down east," said Dan Gerlach of theN.C. Justice and Community Development Center."That housing is gone, and the package doesn't anticipate replacement of that housing."

Lawmakers say the package will provide some relocation assistance to renters, and incentives to builders to create new low-income rental housing.

"The governor and his legislative staff have taken their time and come up with a thoughtful proposal that addresses the most critical needs for the people of eastern North Carolina," said Philip Baddour, N.C. House Majority Leader.

Whatever she gets or does not get from the government, Jones is determined to get back on her feet as soon as possible.

"I'm not planning on being here 18 months, you can believe that," Jones said.

Political activists are also concerned that the package will result in a major budget shortfall. When lawmakers return to session in May, they may have to cut funding to dozens of programs. Many of those may have to be social service programs.

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