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[Update 1: HUD changed number of homes available to 40 from 90.] The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to sell real estate owned properties to public housing authorities, which will make the houses available to families affected by tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and central Alabama earlier this year. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said nearly 40 REO properties will be offered at a discount to the housing authorities, which plan to lease of sell the houses within two months. "After witnessing first-hand the size and scope of the devastation in Alabama, I knew we must do more," Donovan said. "For the first-time, HUD has designed a pilot program that will bring families affected by a significant disaster closer to stability by quickly providing them with an opportunity to purchase or lease a home. We hope to be able to use this draft purchase agreement as a model to assist other families displaced after a disaster." The properties being offered to displaced Joplin, Mo., residents are within a 20-mile radius of the city and spread across three states because of the city's proximity to Kansas and Oklahoma. HUD has provided $350,000 grants to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo., to help the communities address long-term recovery needs following the weather disasters. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw

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