Time Bomb Defused

Among many of the more paranoid residents of the southwest side of town, the date of August 31 has been looming ominously.

That’s the day all FEMA housing assistance gets cut off for Katrina victims. Shortly after that, the doomsday theory goes, the former Louisianans living in the apartments of Fondren Southwest will get tossed on the streets and begin rampaging through the nearby neighborhoods for food, crack, first-borns and whatever else marauding hordes tend to go after.

Well, paranoids, take a deep breath. The feds announced today that housing assistance for Katrina victims will be extended until March 1, 2009. It’ll be the feds’ Housing and Urban Development agency rather than FEMA handling the program, but that shouldn’t make much difference when it comes to keeping the hordes at bay.

Members of Congress for the affected areas are tripping over themselves to claim credit for the decision; first one in our mailbox was U.S. Rep. Al Green.

Take it away, Al (or, at least, take it away whoever wrote the Al quote for the press release):

“The vast majority of all families receiving FEMA rental assistance are those who could least afford to endure the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. These survivors have lived day to day, week to week, and month to month hoping and praying that FEMA would extend its deadlines," stated Congressman Green. "By extending the housing assistance program and by transferring management of the program from FEMA to HUD, we are able to provide these families with greater assurance and stability for their mid- and longer-term housing needs. One thing Katrina taught us was that as HUD not FEMA is better equipped to handle the hurricane survivors' mid- and longer-term housing needs.”

-- Richard Connelly

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