FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2008
Contact: Christina Stephens, firstname.lastname@example.org
HUD, FEMA Include Hurricane Gustav Families to Housing Assistance Program to Begin November 1st
Families should register by calling toll-free 1-800- 621-FEMA (3362)
“Once again, HUD moved quickly to ensure eligible families affected by Hurricane Gustav would have a roof over their heads as they regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. This program will provide a necessary means to deliver timely, effective assistance as the region rebuilds,” said HUD Secretary Steve Preston.
“This latest announcement is the next step in our commitment to provide assistance to Louisiana’s families,” said Jim Stark, Assistant Administrator for Gulf Coast Recovery. “FEMA is pleased to continue our successful partnership with HUD and offer the Disaster Housing Assistance Program to victims of Hurricane Gustav. This program, modeled after the first implemented for Katrina and Rita victims, is a direct result of our agencies working together to find the best solutions to aide Louisiana citizens recovering from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.”
“Adding Gustav-affected families to this disaster housing program, which features robust case management, is a clear signal that we have not forgotten about the thousands impacted by this storm,” said Robin Keegan, Deputy Director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. “Working together with our federal partners at FEMA and HUD, we will continue to identify rental resources in hard-hit parishes and help our families return to safe places to live in their communities.”
The interagency agreement between FEMA and HUD that created the Disaster Housing Assistance Program-Ike (DHAP-Ike), the two agencies announced late last month, will also provide identical benefits to families affected by Hurricane Gustav. These families will be assisted for approximately 17 months and FEMA will determine the families that qualify for assistance.
FEMA and HUD agreed on a program that mirrors the successful program that housed families following the 2005 hurricanes, which continues to support more than 30,000 families. HUD, working
with an extensive network of public housing agencies (PHAs) that already administer the DHAP program for families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and HUD's regular rental assistance program, will oversee and manage the program. Initially, HUD will provide full rental assistance to approved families. Beginning May 1, 2009, families will be responsible for paying $50 per month. Every month thereafter, the family's portion of the rent will increase in increments of $50 until the program ends in March 2010. This approach has been successful in leading families closer to complete housing independence under the original DHAP program.
DHAP-Ike will be implemented as follows:
- Families in need of assistance must register with FEMA by calling 1 (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.FEMA.gov
- HUD will use its network of local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to administer the program where families reside.
- FEMA will begin referring families to HUD by October 15, 2008, so that HUD can contract with its local PHAs for the delivery of DHAP-IKE services starting November 1, 2008.
- Prior to November 1, 2008, PHAs will contact eligible families referred by FEMA to begin outreach and intensive case management services to help displaced families rebuild their lives.
- Beginning November 1, 2008, HUD will begin making rental payments to families declared eligible by FEMA who have been placed in rental housing.
- PHAs will contact landlords and ensure the necessary documents are in place so that those families will continue to receive uninterrupted assistance payments through DHAP-Ike.
- PHAs will work with families and landlords to enter into rental assistance contracts as soon as families are referred by FEMA and begin case management.
- PHAs will pay the higher of the Fair Market Rent rate or the PHAs payment standard.
- All eligible families will begin contributing $50 toward their rent starting May 1, 2009. Every month thereafter, the family portion of the rent will increase in increments of $50 through March of 2010.
- The program provides a hardship waiver of the $50 Incremental Rent Transition (IRT) for families that prove that they cannot afford the rent increment. The details of the hardship provision will be spelled out in standard operating procedures that will be published shortly.
- Starting no later than August 2009, families whose housing costs do not exceed 30 percent of post disaster gross income, taking into account existing mortgages for personal residences that remain uninhabitable, will no longer be eligible for DHAP- Ike.
- Families, whose housing and utility costs exceed 30 percent of post disaster income, will continue to receive assistance, subject to the IRT, through March 2010 when the program ends.
- There will be family obligations as part of this program which will include:
o Family must abide by the terms of the lease and maintain the unit in good condition;
o Family must participate in case management services;
o When IRT begins, family must agree to pay their portion of rent on time and in full; and
o Family must accurately and honestly certify the receipt of benefits from either Small Business Administration grants or loans, insurance proceeds, or any other duplication of benefits.