NEW ORLEANS – Twelve thousand families left homeless by last year's storms will lose their federally funded hotel privileges Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Saturday.
This will be the second wave of evacuees weaned off the federally-sponsored hotel stays within two weeks. Last week, the occupants of roughly 4,500 rooms lost FEMA funding for failing to register with the agency.
FEMA said it would continue to pay for families in 5,000 hotel rooms across the country.
Of those departing on Monday, FEMA officials said 10,500 families, or 88 percent, have received rent-assistance checks from the agency, said Libby Turner, FEMA's transitional housing director. The cash can be used to pay for an apartment or to continue their hotel stays. It can also be put toward fixing their ruined homes.
Because they can continue to pay for the rooms themselves, the deadline is not "the equivalent of an eviction," she said. "This is just about the billing of the room — it will no longer be billed to FEMA."
Yet 1,100 families living in the subsidized hotel rooms are not eligible for further assistance from FEMA. Turner said those evacuees have been referred to other charitable programs.
One of them is Brittany Brown, 21, currently staying on the 13th floor of the New Orleans Crowne Plaza hotel, a floor packed with storm victims. She and her husband have moved from hotel to hotel, all the while waiting for their FEMA trailer to arrive. They want to park the trailer in front of their ruined home so that they can begin rebuilding.
With the Monday deadline looming, she turned to FEMA asking for rent assistance. Brown was told it would take two weeks to review her case, leaving her without a trailer, without an apartment and soon without a hotel room.
She plans to move into her sister's house — along with her husband, uncle and two children. It will bring her sister's two-bedroom household to 10 people.