HUD, FEMA Provide More Transitional Rental Assistance to Families Affected by Katrina and Rita

HUD, FEMA Provide More Transitional Rental Assistance to Families Affected by Katrina and Rita

Families affected by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita will be able to continue to receive rental assistance until August 31, under a new six-month transition program that was announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Families current enrolled in the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP-Katrina/Rita) now have more time to transition out of the DHAP program, either to self-sufficiency or other federal or state housing programs, including HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is also expanding outreach to all HCV income-eligible families to encourage transition to HCV assistance, another measure aimed at helping families transition from disaster assistance during difficult economic times.

DHAP-Katrina/Rita, a temporary rental assistance program designed to help families displaced by the hurricanes, was originally set to expire on February 28. Congress previously authorized $85 million to transition all income-eligible families into the HCV assistance program; however, the previous administration only encouraged the most vulnerable families to participate: seniors, the disabled, or extremely low-income, noted the HUD press release. Secretary Donovan, under Congress’s original authority, wants to make those funds available to transition all HCV income-eligible families, and give local public housing authority (PHA) partners additional time to move eligible families to the HCV program.

Starting March 1, PHAs will receive funding from HUD to pay rent to landlords on behalf of families who received DHAP-Katrina/Rita assistance in February 2009. Beginning with the March payment and each month after, families receiving assistance will be required to pay an additional $100 toward the rent, in a step-down manner, until they reach self-sufficiency or have transitioned onto continued assistance through the HCV program. HUD is encouraging eligible families to transition to the HCV program immediately to avoid the step-down payments.

In addition, participating families and landlords will receive letters to explain the process and any action required on their part. Families who believe they may be eligible for the vouchers must immediately contact their local PHA to begin the application process.

“We understand the important of helping states smoothly transition families to a better long-term living environment,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “This transition opportunity allows FEMA to continue to be responsive to states’ needs by providing innovative, flexible, and compassionate solutions to help disaster survivors get back on their feet.”

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