Victims of Hurricane Katrina who were told to move out of their FEMA trailers by the end of May might be able to keep their homes for pocket change.
The New York Times reports White House officials have announced Wednesday that the tenants will be allowed to buy their trailers for $5 or less.
This is a big relief to many victims who are poor and would otherwise have been left homeless by the forced eviction. Others are living in trailers while they wait for their damaged homes to be fully repaired.
Residents were panicked when they heard about the May 31 eviction because many homes haven’t been restored to habitable conditions just yet. This announcement has been a major relief to those who didn’t know where they would have ended up living on June 1.
“It is a tremendous step in the right direction,” said Louisanna housing lawyer Laura Tuggle. “This is kind of an acknowledgment that there may have been some missteps along the way.”
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that its also providing $50 million in vouchers for permanent housing to more than 3,400 families still living in trailers.
Addtionally, the Obama administration is setting aside money for case managers that would assist people in getting a permanent home.
Martha Kegel with Unity of Greater New Orleans, a homeless service agency, said evacuees have been in desperate need of a program like this, but she is still cautious.
“It’s been such a long history of FEMA making announcements in the media,” she told The Times, “and nothing much in the way of assistance has ever trickled down to the elderly and disabled people trying to repair their homes.”
– Sonya Eskridge