10/07/2005 at 08:00 AM EDT
Harry Connick Jr. went to Washington Thursday to urge lawmakers to spare no expense in rebuilding his hometown of New Orleans and making Gulf Coast citizens safe in their homes.
The singer, 38, appeared before the Senate Finance Committee as the honorary chairman of Habitat for Humanity's Operation Home Delivery, a long-term program to replace housing destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"I don't think money should be an object," Connick told the senators, admitting to an "incredible sadness that has devoured my soul" because of Katrina's destruction.
"There are more than 300,000 families in the Gulf region that lost their homes and are waiting for peace of mind," said Connick. "The hurricane exposed the sad reality of poverty in America. We saw, in all its horrific detail, the vulnerabilities of living in inadequate housing and the heartbreak of losing one's home."
In his role for Operation Home Delivery, Connick encourages involvement from all sectors of society. He also has been helping with the actual construction of some of the homes.
"I come to you with hope," Connick told the committee. "I have no doubt that the government of this great nation will work with its people to lead New Orleans and the Gulf Coast back to an enlightened, proud, safe part of the world."
The hearing was called to examine President Bush's ideas for using tax incentives to lure businesses to the Gulf Coast. Connick's participation placed him amid tax experts and government officials, including former lawmaker Jack Kemp – who urged the senators to revise the rules governing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help fund the group's programs, the Associated Press reports.