Federal Assistance to Stop; Katrina Survivors to Start Paying Own Rent - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/28/06

Federal Assistance to Stop; Katrina Survivors to Start Paying Own Rent

The clock is ticking for hundreds of Hurricane Katrina survivors living in Lubbock. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will stop paying rent for survivors this Friday. The deadline is causing concern for city officials, they've been paying the apartments and getting reimbursed for months now. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire attended a meeting with city leaders and tells us their position on this issue.

Right now Lubbock city officials are genuinely concerned about the future of the Katrina survivors in Lubbock. Starting Friday, survivors must qualify for individual federal assistance. Right now we know at least 20 out of the nearly 170 Lubbock survivors will no longer qualify for help, that means they are now responsible for paying for housing.

New Orleans native and Katrina survivor Eddie Simmons escaped the rage of the storm, but for the past seven months he's faced another obstacle: making a new life in Lubbock. "The distance where certain jobs may hire you at, it's far, you know the transportation, sometimes buses aren't running that far," said Simmons.

He's applied for numerous jobs, in the meantime he lives at Prairie Point Apartments along with numerous Katrina survivors, but that could change in a matter of days. Starting Friday FEMA will stop paying rent.

Assistant City Manager Quincy White said the deadline has been in place since September. He said various letters show the communication the city has kept with survivors about the March 31st deadline. "These deadlines have been there for a while and they've been communicated on numerous occasions that this day was coming," said White.

To receive additional help, survivors must qualify for federal assistance or public housing, but dozens are still waiting to find out if they qualify.

Simmons is one who still hasn't heard from FEMA on whether his assistance will continue. So everyday when he checks the mail he's hoping he receives word. "I heard that some people got letters saying they have to move out," said Simmons. "I feel I may get a letter too saying I have to move and whatever the housing authority gives us, we gotta take that or take the street."

Simmons is grateful for the help he's already received, but now he sends a plea for it to last a little longer. "Y'all know our situation. Whatever help y'all could do we need and we thank you for it," said Simmons.

For those who won't qualify for federal assistance or public housing, FEMA will continue to help with rent on a month to month basis, but it's not know how long that offer will last.

Right now, city officials don't have an exact number on how much FEMA still owes them for the entire relief effort starting in September, however they say they're still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The city has been reimbursed for all apartment expenses, they're still waiting to be reimbursed for other assistance provided over the months.

Making a Kit for an Emergency Situation
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.

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