Industry News

Homeless Katrina victims get housing reprieve

Federal judge rules that rent payments can't be stopped

Thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims living in hotels got a reprieve when a federal judge ruled Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency could not cut off rent payments in early January and must extend the program until Feb. 7, reports said. "FEMA's actions in reference to its subsidy of hotels and motels has been notoriously erratic and numbingly insensitive," U.S. District Court Judge Stanwood Duval of the Eastern District of Louisiana said yesterday after hearing testimony from evacuees last week, according to media reports. The decision, which will affect about 40,000 evacuees, was a rebuff for federal officials who had sought to force individuals and families to take over responsibility for their own housing, accounts said. And it was yet another setback for an agency that has continually drawn criticism for its response to the hurricane, both in the immediate aftermath of the August storm and in the months since. A congressional committee held a hearing last Thursd...