Video: Katrina evacuees evicted

updated 2/14/2006 9:23:41 PM ET 2006-02-15T02:23:41

A judge denied a last-minute request Monday that would have forced the federal government to continue paying directly for hotel rooms for 12,000 families made homeless by last year’s hurricanes.

FEMA has promised the evacuees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita that they will still receive federal assistance that they can use toward hotel stays or fixing their ruined homes, although FEMA will no longer pay for the hotels directly after Monday.

Attorneys for the evacuees tried unsuccessfully to get U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval to issue a temporary restraining order. The lawyers argued the forthcoming money from FEMA won’t be enough for reasonable living accommodations or for continued hotel stays.

Rent-assistance checks
About 10,500 families, or 88 percent of those made homeless by the storm, have received rent-assistance checks from FEMA, said Libby Turner, the agency’s transitional housing director. The cash can be used to pay for an apartment or to continue their hotel stays. It also can be put toward fixing their ruined homes.

The motion alleged that contrary to prior orders of the court, many victims did not receive written notice of termination from the program before Jan. 30 or have not received trailers as promised.

“Under our reading of the judge’s orders they should be allowed to stay until the beginning of March,” said Bill Quigley, an assistant dean of the Loyola University Law School, who filed the motion with civil rights attorney Tracie Washington. “We think FEMA is just trying to clear the books and not taking a careful or compassionate look at these people.”

The motion also alleged that those who have been given rental assistance have not been given fair market value for reasonable living accommodations for three months in their home area.

Others have been terminated illegally or mistakenly, the motion said. And many of those facing eviction would become homeless if the evictions go through, the motion said.

Second wave
Monday marked the second wave of evacuees losing FEMA financing of their hotel rooms. Last week, the occupants of roughly 4,500 rooms lost FEMA funding for failing to register with the agency.

In Louisiana, officials offered shelters to those leaving the hotels, but according to FEMA, only one family needed sheltering.

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