Evacuees may face eviction

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hundreds of hurricane evacuees around the country could be evicted in the coming weeks because the Federal Emergency Management Agency has stopped helping them pay the rent.

More than 12,600 households nationwide found out in April that they were going to lose their rent subsidies.

Most were cut off on May 31 and must make a payment on their own at the end of this week or get out. In Texas, evacuees have until Friday or the end of July before their subsidies run out.

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FEMA spokesman James McIntyre said he does not expect large numbers of people to be turned out on the street. Many have already lined up a place to live or did not need the assistance to begin with, he said.

FEMA paid the rent on apartments and houses for about 58,000 evacuee households as part of a special emergency program in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In April, the agency told 12,658 households that they no longer qualified.

McIntyre said evacuees were cut off if they had been homeless before the storm, were using the money for other needs, or had been displaced by the hurricanes from housing they didn’t own — “those living with Grandma when the storm occurred.”

The initial cutoff date for all states was April 30, but FEMA extended it to May 31.

Some evacuees in Texas, which absorbed the most refugees, have until June 30; those in Houston and Dallas have even longer — July 31.

The cutoff affects 3,900 evacuee households in Houston and 1,100 in Dallas. In the Memphis area, 300 to 500 evacuees are facing eviction.

Tennessee state spokeswoman Lola Potter said many evacuees have figured out how to live without the subsidy.

“We have not seen any need to open shelters or any of those things,” she said. “A lot of them have identified a support system for themselves.”