[Update 1: Clarifies status of HUD assistance] While most news on the impact of the Chinese drywall has been focused on the Florida market, where a surge in new home building during the boom led to use of the imported product, HB Litigation Conferences CEO Tom Hagy believes the next hotspot will be in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. Many homeowners along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, whose properties were damaged during Hurricane Katrina, likely used Chinese drywall to make repairs. These rebuilding projects took place before the industry became aware that some types of Chinese drywall contained high levels of damaging chemicals that would corrode pipes, emit foul smells. While the companies that built these homes often set up reserve funds to pay for the repair of afflicted homes, according to posted quarterly reports, home owners say they continue to live in these homes without restitution. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, said the federal government is exploring the issue to determine what, if any, federal assistance will be provided to said homeowners. “Whatever the results, the implications for HUD are clear — we are prepared to work with our partners across government, whether on remediation as we do with lead through our Healthy Homes program, re-housing families impacted by this problem as we have successfully on the Gulf Coast in recent months, helping families whose homes have lost value, or any other appropriate steps,” Donovan said in his prepared remarks. HB Litigation Conferences will host a conference in New Orleans for lawyers and insurance company representatives on the legal issues surrounding the rash of homes built with defective Chinese drywall. The event will be held on Nov. 11 in New Orleans, and will also be available through a video feed over the Internet. “Given the spread of claims along the Gulf Coast and the selection of New Orleans as the site of the roughly 300-case Chinese drywall multi-district litigation, we felt New Orleans was most central and most appropriate,” to host the conference, Hagy said. In addition to the online video feeds, the conference producer will host conference-viewing events in six Florida locations to give participants the opportunity to network. Write to Austin Kilgore.