Harris County Housing Authority Running Katrina Housing

The Harris County Housing Authority has taken over the job of providing housing assistance for Louisiana hurricane victims in New Orleans and more than three dozen other states. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell explains.

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A New Orleans newspaper reports HUD handed this job to the Harris County Housing Authority to improve the rent voucher system, do a better job of finding housing for storm victims and paying landlords on time. Director Guy Rankin is now in charge of Disaster Housing Assistance in New Orleans, Houston, and in all the other states where storm victims were sent.

"The Harris County Housing Authority has been charged with helping those 250 housing authorities in 37 states take care of persons involved in Katrina and Rita. We're here to help people move back to New Orleans, and also those people who are here with their rental assistance through the Disaster Housing Assistance Program."ξ

Rankin says the Harris County Housing Authority was placed in charge of the New Orleans and national housing assistance programs because it's done such a good job of helping storm evacuees in the Houston area.

"We dealt with it in Houston well, so it gained credibility, then we opened the DHAP center in Houstonξ and that gained us more credibility. And then, quite frankly, they were having troubles in New Orleans, and they looked for who's the closest, who's the best, who can turn that project around and house people quickly."

Starting in March, people getting rent assistance will start paying $50 of their rent, and their share will increase $50 a month until the program ends. The goal is to have all Louisiana storm evacuees who're able to work off the program and self-sufficient by July of next year.ξ Guy Rankin says it can be done. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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