Housing Extended For Storm Victims

Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Director David Paulison, speaks to reporters during a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005 in Washington. Stung by charges it's pushing hurricane victims out before the holidays, FEMA extended its hotel housing program Tuesday by a month in 10 states that were deluged by victims of Katrina and Rita. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) AP

People left homeless after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita can stay in their home-away-from home for the holidays.

Evacuees from 10 states who are still housed in hotels now have until Jan. 7 before FEMA stops paying the bill.

The agency's been stung by charges it was pushing victims out before the holidays.

Evacuees are getting a reprieve in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, California, Tennessee, Arkansas and Nevada. Evacuees in all other states are facing a December 15th deadline.

FEMA acting director David Paulison insists that people will not be kicked out into the street. He says FEMA just wants to move them from hotels and motels and into apartments that will continue to be paid for.

The agency said last week that it will stop paying hotel bills by the end of the month for most of the families devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, even though housing advocates fear they won't have enough time to find other places.

Most of the people still staying in hotels and motels are in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had previously set the December deadline as a goal to have evacuees out of hotels and into travel trailers, mobile homes or apartments until they find permanent homes.

Last week's announcement marked the first time the agency said it would cease directly paying for hotel rooms that have cost FEMA $274 million since the storms struck.

FEMA had granted exceptions to evacuees in hotels in Louisiana and Mississippi, where there is a shortage of housing. Evacuees in those states have until Jan. 7 to find homes, said David Garratt, FEMA's acting director of recovery. He said 9,830 households remain in hotels in Louisiana and 2,508 in Mississippi.
  • Melissa McNamara

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