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Katrina Housing Aid Is Ending. For Real, This Time

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It seems like a long, long time ago, those crazy days when hurricanes Katrina and Rita came ashore.

In Houston, we mostly felt the effects of Katrina, of course, as New Orleans evacuees came over. Some started lives here, others eventually went home.

But now -- finally, some would say -- the rent assistance for almost all of those displaced by the two storms is about to run out.

County Judge Ed Emmett says this month's rent payment will be the last from the feds: "When thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina first fled to Harris County in 2005, we called them 'evacuees'," Emmett says. "Now, three and a half years later, most have gone home. But those who have chosen to stay, we now call neighbors, and it's time that they be fully integrated as neighbors and not as victims any longer."

About 8,000 families have been helped to become "self-sufficient" since the 2005 storm, officials say. The deadline for cutting off aid has been extended several times.

Emmett said that federal housing help for victims of Ike will continue until at least March 2010.

"We showed the world how quickly and efficiently we on the Texas Gulf Coast could recover from a major hurricane, but there are still thousands of us that need assistance with that recovery," Emmett said.

Here's an idea, you so-called God: How about no more hurricanes for a while?

-- Richard Connelly

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