Katrina Evacuees Face Tough Time In Texas

<p>More Katrina evacuees went to Texas than any other state except Louisiana. A year later, many of them are in limbo.</p>
October 11, 2006, 8am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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In Houston, where most Texas evacuees are concentrated, 4,400 families were told they were ineligible for transitional aid and would lose their housing assistance on August 31. In July, FEMA warned that another 16,000 households in Texas, or roughly 40,000 individuals, that had not provided proper documentation would lose their assistance on July 31 and risk eviction.

Perhaps the most devastating aftereffect of FEMA's termination of rental assistance is that housing in Texas cities is not affordable to low-income evacuees.

In Texas, the crisis is magnified by the fact that until recently, the state had received little federal funding to house evacuees cut from the FEMA rolls. In late August, HUD allocated $428 million to the state in Community Development Block Grants; previously, the only significant federal funding to Texas had been the $74.5 million in CDBG funds the state received to help recover from Hurricane Rita. On August 1, HUD issued a waiver for the state's use of the earlier funding, allowing the money to be used directly for the construction of housing and for covering 100 percent of down payments. But even if all of these funds are spent on housing, they will not begin to meet the needs of low-income families devastated by Rita. And there is no guarantee the more recent CDBG allocation will be used to help very low-income Katrina evacuees, whose numbers in Texas are staggering.

Thanks to David Holtzman

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Published on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 in Shelterforce Magazine
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