WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today recognized the HUD partners who worked together over the past two years to successfully complete the Katrina-Rita Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), a rental assistance and case management program that helped 37,000 families who were displaced by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes find a permanent housing solution.
Representative from nearly 20 housing authorities, a Louisiana non-profit organization, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and HUD Headquarters and field office staffs joined Donovan today in Washington to celebrate DHAP’s conclusion. DHAP was developed in 2007 by FEMA and HUD to provide up to 18 months of rental assistance and case management to families who were displaced by the devastating hurricanes and were not previously HUD assisted.
The program was scheduled to end in February 2009. When Donovan became HUD Secretary in January, he and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a six-month transition program to ensure families had an opportunity to move on to self-sufficiency or to obtain a rental assistance voucher that allows them to rent housing from private landlords. The program ended October 31, 2009 after assisting 37,000 families. Approximately 12,000 of those families obtained a HUD Housing Choice Voucher.
“In the coming days families will gather at home to celebrate the holiday season, “said Donovan. “It was people in the room, and many others who are not, who helped make it possible for thousands of families, whose lives and homes were ravaged four years ago, to have the comfort of a home for this holiday season. For their untiring effort HUD and I say thank you.”
While housing agencies across the country played varying roles that contributed to the success of the program, the housing authorities invited to today’s celebration were integral to DHAP’s implementation and ultimate success.
As a token of his appreciation, Donovan presented plaques to representatives from the following housing authorities in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia: the Harris County Housing Authority (TX); Houston Housing Authority (TX); San Antonio Housing Authority (TX); Dallas Housing Authority (TX); Austin Housing Authority (TX); Plano Housing Authority (TX); Arlington Housing Authority (TX); McKinney Housing Authority (TX); the Housing Authority of New Orleans (LA); Jefferson Parish Housing Authority (LA); Pilgrims Rest Community Development (LA); East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority (LA); Lake Charles Housing Authority (LA); Mississippi Region VIII Housing Authority (MS); Memphis Housing Authority (TN); Nashville Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (TN); the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Rental Assistance Division (GA); and, the Housing Authority of Dekalb County (GA). Donovan also recognized Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the legal aid organization, for its work on behalf of families in and around New Orleans.
Donovan also shared personal stories from families who evacuated. For example Errol Morrow, a 50-year-old forklift operator in Louisiana, who not only found permanent housing through the HCV program, but also received the certification he needed to continue his profession in his new community thanks to the work of a DHAP case manager and his determination to overcome.