Katrina victims face November 30 deadline to find housing
November 22 event will connect evacuees with housing and other services
SEATTLE—November 17, 2005—Facing a deadline imposed by the recent announcement by FEMA that it will not reimburse Gulf Coast evacuees for hotel or motel expenses after November 30, local government and non-profit agencies are hosting a "Day of Housing and Resource Assistance" on November 22.
According to SHA Deputy Executive Director Andrew Lofton, "We are hoping that those in need of housing will come to this event on Tuesday so that we can assist them. It's vital that we reach as many Gulf Coast evacuees in the Seattle area as possible and encourage them to attend." Seattle Housing Authority staff will join with staff from King County Housing Authority and Renton Housing Authority to assist in hooking up those in need with suitable housing. Representatives from non-profit housing providers will also be present.
So far, the Seattle Housing Authority has worked with over 175 households from the Gulf Coast who are seeking either temporary or permanent housing in the Puget Sound area. Over 45 people have signed leases and moved into housing, and an additional 20 households are involved in the leasing process.
SHA has offered up 60 of its own housing units to house the new arrivals, most of which are located in West Seattle. Admissions Manager Dennis Hall expects that all of those apartments will be leased by the Dec. 1 deadline. "We have streamlined our process as much as possible," noted Hall, "so that we can move people into housing with a minimum of processing time."
Working with the City of Seattle's Office of Housing, SHA will continue to assist Gulf Coast evacuees with referrals to other housing providers, form both the private and the non-profit sectors. The Office of Housing is maintaining an inventory of available units. FEMA will reimburse the agencies or individuals for the rental costs of the housing for Katrina victims. FEMA is contracting with the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to forward these reimbursements directly to the housing providers.
SHA is working closely with the City of Seattle, the Urban League, and others to ensure a coordinated response to each household’s needs. John Manning has been hired to coordinate services for these households. He is acting as an ombudsman for those in SHA housing, making sure they are connected with other providers for furniture, utility hook-ups, and all the other necessary steps of moving into a new home in a strange city. That position is expected to be of a limited duration of three or four months and will be reimbursed by FEMA.
SHA employees have also been working as volunteers to help these households get set up in their new housing. Employees have enlisted the help of friends and neighbors to provide household goods, clothing and furniture.
Windermere Foundation donated $2,500 to help provide for the households, and many volunteers have assisted in sorting and categorizing the offerings. A temporary distribution center has been set up in a vacant unit at High Point.