A federal judge ordered the Bush administration Wednesday to immediately resume making housing benefits available to thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the Federal Emergency Management Agency failed to adequately explain why it ended the 18-month housing assistance program for people who lost their homes in the 2005 storm.

Leon's ruling was issued as a temporary injunction requested by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which filed suit in August saying FEMA had violated the rights of Katrina victims by abruptly stopping housing payments.

The judge ordered the federal agency to explain its reasoning and allow the displaced hurricane victims to appeal its decision. While that process goes forward, the judge said, FEMA must keep making payments and must pay storm victims for two months of housing since the decision to stop the program.