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Hurricane Ike Victims Still Need Housing Assistance

More than six weeks after Hurricane Ike sent many residents from homes and apartments, representatives from FEMA and the federal housing and urban development met with local and congressional leaders to discuss the effort to provide temporary housing. Pat Hernandez tells us the Mayor is not happy with what he calls a slow response by the federal government.


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Upwards of 6-thousand displaced hurricane victims are qualified for temporary housing and money. About one tenth have received assistance.

Mayor Bill White: “After Katrina there was no program, so we made it up. We used housing vouchers, FEMA dispersed about hundred and forty-million dollars within a period of weeks after the disaster, but we were placing more people everyday in apartments than they have allowed us to place from the time of Ike until today.”

He says people ought to deal with this with a sense of urgency.

“Thanks goodness Congressman Green, Congressman Brady agreed to convene a meeting with FEMA, HUD and local housing authorities to get some things moving.”

Woodlands Congressman Kevin Brady says FEMA has improved dramatically from its response to Hurricane Katrina and Rita…to Hurricane Ike.

“It is night and day better, there is no question about it, but there is still red tape — we call it Hurricane red tape — that follows a disaster that is just aggravating. Somehow Congress we always vow vow we are going to change it. FEMA has made changes, again in housing it’s not reflective.”

Simon Cheval with FEMA sees it differently.

“I understand the frustration. If you are without a home; if you are sleeping in a hotel — that’s not a good solution for you. FEMA is here. We’ve got thousands of people in the state of Texas working to place people in housing. We’ve got several different housing avenues including this partnership with HUD, which is fairly unique program that we don’t necessarily break out, but obviously, Ike was such a dramatic event. We found it necessary to explore all avenues.”

Cheval says they need to keep up with those who need assistance to adapt to their evolving needs. Mayor White says the bureaucracy can be easily taken care of.

“It’s really simple to solve which is you get the person, the president, secretary of HUD, and the head of FEMA, homeland security and you say stop it.  And it’ll stop.”

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.