Housing Deadline for Some FEMA Evacuees

Today is the deadline for when FEMA stops paying housing expenses for several thousand hurricane Katrina evacuee families here in Houston. Here's more from Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams.

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It's a deadline that's been extended several times and affects only evacuees who have been in FEMA's emergency sheltering program and can't provide documentation that would help them transition into other assistance programs. Earlier this month, about 4500 families fell into that category, but that list has been reduced by about 700 households since then. FEMA's Charlie Henderson says officials are doing all they can to set-up additional help.

"Essentially, FEMA is working with United Way, with St. Vincent DePaul, with other non-profits and faith-based organizations to try to make this transition as painless as possible and as efficient as possible for people who are so affected."

Many evacuee families are enrolled in what's known as the 408 individual assistance program that is periodically renewed. Henderson says FEMA realizes the transition from assistance to no assistance is daunting.

"We are concerned. Technically the responsibility is dictated by federal law, but the Stafford Act with FEMA, that is running out. We have just reached this milestone on the public assistance, emergency sheltering aspect of the funding program."

Because FEMA pays the city for housing and the city then pays landlords where evacuees are housed, officials say some evacuees whose assistance runs out tomorrow could be evicted.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...