HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan released details on February 20th of a new plan designed to reach out to renters who are still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Although it has been over 3 and a half years since these hurricanes lambasted the gulf coast and displaced thousands of renters and homeowners, efforts are still ongoing to get people back in their homes.
This means more rental assistance to displaced families in New Orleans and surrounding areas, with a special focus on transitioning those in the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP). DHAP took effect on September 1, 2007 to replacing the existing FEMA rental-subsidy program. There is a lot of bureaucratic information on the subject here.
This shift in administration was the result of an agreement between HUD and FEMA. Two years after the hurricanes had actually hit, FEMA, after infamously bungling recovery, was probably more than happy to hand over the responsibility of assisting around 40,000 families with their rental payments over to HUD. Also, FEMA is responsible for responding to the immediate aftermath of disasters, whereas HUD, with its extensive network of public housing offices and employees is a much more suitable agency to carry out long term housing assistance, no matter the initial cause.
Since DHAP was scheduled to sunset on February 28th, HUD needs to figure out what to do for the approximately 31,400 families still relying on the program to cover their rents. The plan will work as follows:
- HUD will expand its assistance to all income-eligible families; the Bush Administration only aided senior, disabled and extremely low-income families. HUD will work with local public housing offices to get all income-eligible families into Section 8 housing.
- The plan will begin March 1 and go until August 31 and will require DHAP families to pay an additional $100 towards rent.
Basically, HUD plans to use whatever is left over from the original funding authorization of $85 million to transition all income-eligible families that were getting funds from DHAP to the Section 8 program in 6 months.