AUSTIN, Texas -- Thousands of Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees facing July and August deadlines for recertifying their need for assistance will have until Oct. 31 to comply, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today.
"We recognize that the time is short and we understand the confusion that evacuees have with the various government programs," said Robert "Bob" Bennett, chief of staff and special assistant to E.C. "Butch," Smith, director of the Texas Transitional Recovery Office in Austin. "We are happy to report that FEMA's leadership has agreed to take this step as a compassionate way to help disaster victims recover their footing."
FEMA's rental assistance program for individuals normally requires applicants to provide proof every three months that they are taking steps toward recovery. Recertification requires documentation, such as rental receipts, a realistic housing plan and documentation of income or efforts to get a job.
FEMA registrants who transitioned to this program from public emergency sheltering programs via agencies such as the Houston Housing Authority and those whose rent is being paid via Corporate Lodging Consultants (CLC) will have until Oct. 31 to recertify. Applicants who went straight into FEMA's individual assistance program without having their rent paid by a public agency or CLC must prove to FEMA before their three months of rental assistance runs out that they have a continuing need for FEMA's money and have used it to pay the rent.
Applicants who do not know their status may call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (621-3362) (TTY 800-462-7585).
In Texas, thousands of evacuee households received letters over the summer seeking recertification information, but many people did not respond to requests for information or missed the mailings. FEMA feared as many as 28,000 evacuees would have to be recertified by the end of August, but that is no longer the case.
FEMA still expects that a small number of evacuees now in emergency sheltering will not qualify for further assistance. Many of these have likely moved on and are re-establishing their lives without FEMA's help.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003 .