Faith-based groups dismayed at 1 December hotel deadline

Published 23 November 2005

Last Friday, we reported FEMA’s announcement that Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees would be cut off from hotel lodging payments as targeted by 1 December. While 53,000 families were reported as still reliant on hotels for emergency shelter following the storms, the program has drawn criticism for its high cost — reported at $274 million since 29 August when the first hurricane struck — and the apparently indefinite timeline for such assistance, as filling of contracts for temporary and mobile homes which has lagged far behind schedule. The decision to enforce the end-of-November deadline would address the spending issue, but some questioned FEMA’s ability to get all those still relying on hotels into more permanent housing before the deadline. In Houston alone, more than 19,000 families remain in hotel and motel rooms. After the 1 December deadline some of those currently receiving hotel assistance may get FEMA rental housing aid checks, which they can apply to hotels if they so choose.

In a report, faith-based aid groups chimed in on the issue, with many expressing dismay at the prospects for relocating the evacuees in time. John Robinson, a national coordinator with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, noted that the ongoing lack of clarity for the future of New Orleans complicates the issue for evacuees making decisions about signing rental leases. “FEMA made that decision to put people in hotel space in the first place. But now it’s time to take a long look at what the arc of this recovery will look like - even if that decision includes extending the deadline,” quotes him as saying.

-read the’s report here; read the original FEMA press release here