News| Hurricane Katrina | FEMA No Longer Footing Hotel Bills

News| Hurricane Katrina | FEMA No Longer Footing Hotel Bills

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Feb. 13, 2006 – A number of hotels across the nation are set to put more than 12,000 families, left homeless by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, out on the street Monday, but a group of lawyers are seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the evictions.

"We have provided the court with statements from people showing they have not been treated fairly by FEMA," said Bill Quigley, an assistant dean of the Loyola University Law School, who with civil rights attorney Tracie Washington filed the motion, The Associated Press reported.

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But they didn’t just stop at filing the motion.  The two attorneys took the papers to the home of the judge handling the case, CNN reported.

Hotel Exodus Begins

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Saturday that about 40,000 people made homeless by last year's storms are scheduled to be forced out of their federally funded hotel rooms today.

"Under our reading of the judge's orders, they should be allowed to stay until the beginning of March," Quigley told reporters. "We think FEMA is just trying to clear the books and not taking a careful or compassionate look at these people."

This is the second wave of evacuees dropped from the federally sponsored hotel stays withing two weeks.  Just last week, the occupants of more than 4,000 rooms lost FEMA funding for failing to register with the agency.

Many people haven't received trailers they were promised. And some didn't find out about the eviction until the beginning of the month, Quigley told reporters.

But FEMA officials say that's not true.

Billing of the Rooms

Darryl Madden, a spokesman for FEMA, told that  evacuess are not being forced out of hotels.

"People can continue to stay in the hotels, Madden said." However, they will need to utilize FEMA rental assistance or other volunteer agency support.   About 90 percent of those in the hotel program have cash asssistance from FEMA they can use for housing," he said.

And that cash can be used to pay for an apartment, continue hotel stays or be put toward fixing their ruined homes, according to Libby Turner, FEMA's transitional housing director.

FEMA officials say they have spent $542 million on hotel rooms for hurricane victims since September. And of the 12,000 families, 10,500 continue federal aid, while 1,100 additional families were deemed ineligible for FEMA help, including some who should not have been on the program in the first place, Turner told AP reporters.

Those who were homeless before Katrina will be referred to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The HUD toll-free number is (866) 373-9509.

Turner said that FEMA will continue to work with those in need, but this is simply about the billing of rooms. “FEMA will no longer be subsidizing those rooms,” AP reported

An additional 8,000 FEMA-paid hotel rooms where hurricane evacuees are staying, will expire March 1, the day after Mardi Gras, Turner said.

Do you think hurricane evacuees have had enough time?  Click "Discuss Now" to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff


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