Home for the Holidays

As Christmas approaches — several hundred Hurricane Ike evacuees are still in transitional housing. As Laurie Johnson reports — the Houston Housing Authority is working to get those families into a stable environment as quickly as possible.
A lot of people are still homeless after Hurricane Ike. Hundreds of them are living in hotels or staying with family members. And hundreds more are in FEMA emergency housing.

Charina Allen-Beasley is with the Houston Housing Authority, which administers federal disaster housing for Ike victims.

She says they operated a similar program for Katrina and Rita evacuees, helping people transition from emergency housing into a temporary, but more long-term living situation.

"To get that sense of stability and you know being stable where you can spend the holidays and know that you're not going to have to be displaced again. We do have case management services that are provided to these families and so we certainly work with the family and the children to identify some of the other needs other than the rental housing for some of our DHAP Ike participants, and that's been very successful."

About 2,300 families have applied for housing in Houston. Allen-Beasley says 900 of them are still in the application and decision process to find homes.

"It's a new experience for some of our families. They've never had to deal with any type of federal program before. And certainly we're shepherding them through the process very gingerly and delicately and trying to make sure that they understand the different nuances of the program and make them as comfortable as possible, help them with the transition so that it's as seamless as possible for them and very little disturbance to their families and their children."

The temporary housing assistance is good through March 2010. In the meantime, the Houston Housing Authority is trying to get as many people signed up for the assistance as possible.

"Working with the case management component throughout the duration of the program to ultimately move persons to economic self-sufficiency. So come March 2010, these families are prepared to be totally self-sufficient and move back into their pre-disaster unit or some other type of permanent housing."

FEMA has extended the registration deadline for housing assistance to January 10th.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...