FEMA Temporary Housing Program Ending For Families Of Hurricanes Katrina And Rita 

Release Date: May 1, 2009
Release Number: FNF-09-012

In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA conducted the largest temporary housing operation in the history of the country, providing temporary housing units to more than 143,000 families across the Gulf Coast. Additionally, FEMA has provided more than $7.8 billion in housing and other needs assistance (e.g. transportation, clothing, furniture) to roughly 1.5 million households affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The temporary housing program for families of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ends on May 1, 2009. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act provides for up to 18 months of temporary housing following a disaster.  The law limits the duration of direct housing assistance, and the 18-month limit may be extended only in extraordinary circumstances.  Given the level of devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, direct housing assistance has been extended more than two years beyond the statutory 18-month limit, for a total of 44 months of assistance.

Taking account of present circumstances, FEMA decided not to further extend the period of direct housing assistance.  Many local parishes/cities in Louisiana and Mississippi have requested to partner with FEMA to enact deactivation initiatives to establish deadlines for the removal of temporary housing units that are no longer needed for temporary housing purposes.  

FEMA has offered each household at least three rental resources that meet the household's individual housing needs, such as number of bedrooms, accessibility, within Fair Market Rent (FMR) established by the HUD for the area, and within a reasonable commuting distance.  Some households have been offered as many as sixty-five rental resources that were located within a reasonable commuting area. FEMA also offered to immediately move any household with a health concern to alternate housing. This offer was made to every household residing in a temporary housing unit.

As one method of transition, FEMA allows participants in park models and mobile homes to purchase their units under the Temporary Housing Units Sales-to-Occupants program.  In accordance with FEMA policy, FEMA only sells those units that are below the State's approved acceptable levels of formaldehyde for occupied park models and mobile homes; meaning the units must comply with standards that are at least as stringent as the State's.

In February 2008, FEMA established the Joint Federal/State Relocation Task Force in Mississippi and Louisiana. The mission and objectives of this temporary Task Force were to ensure the safe, compassionate, timely, and consistent implementation of plans to relocate households out of FEMA temporary housing units and into alternative (interim or permanent) housing, integrate the capabilities and capacity of Federal and State agencies to facilitate an aggressive relocation of households, and identify and address concerns and barriers to relocation progress. Currently, FEMA and the States of Louisiana and Mississippi regularly meet to discuss the status of housing and initiatives that may assist in relocating household's to more permanent housing. In addition, FEMA has been actively engaging with the State and local governments and the public on the termination of the program. FEMA has been meeting with State officials in both Louisiana and Mississippi to establish additional ways to connect applicants to available programs.

In addition to these efforts, HUD has transitioned some families to permanent housing.  Through funding from FEMA, HUD has been administering the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP)-Katrina Close-out Program to transition the remaining DHAP families to find permanent housing solutions, prior to August 31, 2009 when the program ends.

HUD has also provided resources to States across the Gulf Coast to aid in disaster recovery.  The two primary sources of funding to support families currently in THUs are HUD's HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. States can use their annual HOME funds to provide temporary rental assistance to eligible THU families (only if this activity is in approved Action Plans), or request re-allocation of CDBG funds to fund temporary rental assistance. States are in receipt of these Federal dollars and have flexibility to create affordable housing solutions for their residents.

States of Mississippi and Louisiana both receive annual HOME allocations to increase affordable housing.  The State of Mississippi receives an annual HOME allocation of approximately $13.6 million.  As of April 27, 2009, Mississippi has $37.6 million of HOME funds unexpended in its HOME account; of this amount, $27 million has not been committed by the State to a HOME activity or unit of local government and may be available for a HOME-funded tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA) program in Mississippi.   The State of Louisiana receives an annual HOME allocation of approximately $15 million.  As of April 28, 2009, Louisiana has $48.3 million unexpended in its HOME account; of this amount, approximately $10 million has not been committed by the State.

Assuming that a state allocated $10 million of HOME funds to TBRA and provided an average annual per-family subsidy of $4,500, it could fund HOME TBRA vouchers for over 2,200 families.  Using these same assumptions, assisting 5,000 families per year would cost $22.5 million.

The Gulf Coast States also received $19.7 billion in CDBG disaster funding for long-term rebuilding and recovery.  Mississippi received $5.5 billion and Louisiana $13.4 billion.  Mississippi currently has approximately $2.7 billion remaining in CDBG funds that have been awarded but not disbursed, while Louisiana has $4.1 billion remaining in CDBG funds that have been awarded but not disbursed. 

Last Modified: Friday, 01-May-2009 18:31:25