KENNEDY, ENZI CONTINUE WORK TOWARD ENSURING KATRINA VICTIMS RECEIVE ASSISTANCE THEY NEED Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill to provide help combat poverty through the Community Service Block Grant
Washington, D.C.—Today, Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Mike Enzi introduced the Community Services Disaster Assistance Act of 2005 to assist the victims of hurricane Katrina and help combat the widespread poverty that plagues the region. Community Service Block Grant agencies provide low-income communities with the support they need to achieve self- sufficiency on a daily basis. Typical programs and services offered by the agencies address unemployment, inadequate housing and poor nutrition. On Thursday, Senators Kennedy and Enzi offered their education relief bill for the victims of Katrina and are expected to introduce health and labor proposals this week.
Kennedy is determined to not just rebuild the Gulf Coast as it was but to fulfill the true promise of the American Dream by committing ourselves to better health, better education and better job opportunities for them, and for all Americans. Yesterday he met with leading African American ministers who, as messengers of the communities most affected by Hurricane Katrina, share this determination. On Friday, Kennedy and 13 of his colleagues visited the Gulf Coast and heard firsthand what is needed most immediately. The bill introduced today contains provisions for state Community Service Block Grant offices, and Community Action Agencies, and allows CSBG offices to donate up to one percent of their administrative or discretionary funds to regions hit by hurricane Katrina.
Senator Kennedy said, “Support for this emergency work is more important today than ever. The states hit hardest by the Hurricane and flood were also some of the poorest. We in Congress have a responsibility to do all we can to help these states rebuild and thrive again and the best place to start is by supporting the invaluable community service agencies who are working on the frontlines, helping those most in need."Community Action Agencies are already able to receive emergency funds from FEMA, and this bill expresses the sense of the senate that emergency assistance should be made available immediately. It also establishes a temporary income eligibility waiver for Community Services Block Grant funded services in areas designated a disaster. Evacuees won’t have to worry about having the right paperwork on hand, they will receive the services they need exactly when they need it. Finally, this bill permits agencies and state offices to send their staff to federally- designated disaster areas in other parts of the same state or in other states to provide disaster assistance.