About 110,000 households displaced due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 will continue to receive housing assistance through March 1, 2009, under a plan the Bush administration announced last week.
Under the plan, some 33,000 families still receiving federal housing assistance, and 87,000 still living in travel trailers and mobile homes, will begin to pay a portion of the cost of the rental beginning in March 2008 and continuing through March 1, 2009, when benefits will end. Those living in travel trailers and mobile homes will also have the option of purchasing their units, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
Housing aid had been scheduled to end August 31.
Those receiving rental assistance will be moved to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Disaster Housing Assistance Program. “HUD will use their extensive experience in case management to help residents transition to longer-term housing,” said Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding Donald E. Powell. “We believe this is a coordinated, integrated approach to help those families who need more time and further assistance to move from temporary housing and transition to self-sufficiency.”
Some of the displaced welcomed the news, while some advocates for the poor were critical of the plan.
“You never know. You just wait until you hear the magic words: ‘No, you will not become homeless, no, you will not have to live in a shelter,'” said Gilda Burbank, who has been living in Houston since she was rescued from a public housing development in New Orleans. . . .
“Here’s the reality: The people left in the rental assistance program are extremely poor,” said Sheila Crowley, the president of the Washington-based National Low Income Housing Coalition. “It’s simply designed to push people out of the program.” — Associated Press
FEMA director David Paulison disagreed. “We’re not going to kick people out. We just want them to get back to self-sufficiency.”
It’s been almost two years. By the time the program ends, it will be three and a half. How long does it take to get back to self-sufficiency? For far too many people, it’s one day longer than the government pays their bills. Some people actually are unable to work, and those people will be transitioned into existing HUD programs. But I have little patience for those who deliberately arrange their lives so as to require government handouts, or worse, are able but unwilling to take care of themselves.