WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is urging families still receiving Katrina/Rita transitional housing assistance to contact HUD to ensure that they are considered for rental vouchers, which are not time limited. A toll-free number, 1-800-955-2232, has been set up to make the process as easy as possible.
HUD issued a reminder today that families will receive the final rent payment for a six-month transitional disaster housing program on August 1, 2009, covering the rent through August 31st. The program was created to give families who participated in the Katrina/Rita Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) more time to find permanent housing. While more than 10,000 families have already been given a HUD housing voucher, HUD is ramping up final efforts to contact families who may qualify for rental voucher assistance.
"While we are pleased to report that many families who lost their homes four years ago in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have found permanent housing, we are still concerned about many families," said Frederick Tombar, a HUD senior advisor for disaster housing programs. "We want families who believe they may be eligible for HUD’s voucher program to call our toll-free number 1-800-955-2232 before this program ends in August."
The transitional disaster housing program began March 1, 2009 with approximately 30,500 families. To date nearly 10,000 families are being processed or have been given a HUD Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), which allows the family to rent housing from private landlords and generally pay no more than 30 percent of annual adjusted income. About 4,500 families declined assistance or were determined ineligible for the program because their incomes or assets are above what’s allowed under the voucher program.
HUD has reached out to the remaining families, approximately 16,000, who have not yet transitioned. "HUD and the housing authorities want to ensure all families who are eligible to transition to the voucher program have the opportunity to do so before the program ends," said Tombar.
HUD and Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created the Disaster Housing Assistance Program Katrina/Rita (DHAP-Katrina/Rita) in 2007 to provide housing assistance to families displaced by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. The program was designed to provide up to 18 months of housing rental assistance to families who were not previously HUD-assisted, but needed longer-term housing that FEMA could not provide. The program also provided families with case management to determine what additional social services families would need to fully recover and regain their self-sufficiency.
While nearly 200 housing authorities have been administering the program and working directly with families in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, the majority of the families in the Transitional Closeout Program are concentrated in and around New Orleans.