Thursday, December 08, 2005

Welcome to the FEMA hotel program.

Nation: They will never leave.

Associated Press: Evacuees hoping to preserve a government program providing hotel rooms to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina have their day in court on Friday, when a federal judge hears an array of complaints against the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to hearing claims that Katrina victims face unfair and premature eviction from hotels, Judge Stanwood Duval will hear testimony and arguments that FEMA has wrongfully denied rental assistance to some evacuees. "We plan on calling three victims, at least two of whom are about to be evicted from hotels," said Howard Godnick, an attorney for evacuees, who is seeking to make the lawsuit a class-action on behalf of all Katrina evacuees. ....About 41,000 hotel rooms are now occupied under the FEMA program, which has cost the agency about $350 million so far, FEMA spokeswoman Nicol Andrews said Thursday. In addition to trying to preserve the hotel program, the lawsuit contains a long list of complaints about FEMA's response to Katrina. For instance, it says that FEMA has unfairly applied a rule limiting housing assistance money to single households, meaning people living at the same address in the storm-struck areas could be forced to share one housing check if they are unrelated and were evacuated to different far-flung areas of the country. Also, the suit seeks to stop FEMA from trying to recoup aid checks that were meant for rent but were spent on other storm-related necessities, and to allow victims to continue receiving rental assistance even if their initial three-month allocation of rent money was not spent on rent but on other needs.
Between this, "It was like concentration camp, Gestapo, genocide" claims on the hill debacle, and everyone hating New Orleans even within the state. Its no wonder people have soured on the evacuees and local officials. This program was flawed from the start and unless something is done, it will go from an emergency stop measure to an entitlement for years to come.

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