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WASHINGTON, DC-The National Low Income Housing Coalition has deemed President George W. Bush’s plan for providing housing to low-income residents left homeless due to Hurricane Katrina insufficient. The group released preliminary numbers on the amount of low-income housing units obliterated by the August 29th disaster.

On Friday the President proposed the Urban Homesteading Act as a means of providing temporary and permanent housing for the displaced low-income residents. “Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery,” Bush said during his national address to the country. “In return, they would pledge to build on the lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity.”

NLIHC commended Bush’s efforts, but concluded that the plan is unsatisfactory as it, by nature of a lottery system, creates winners and losers and will not fully embrace all low-income families who lost housing. Additionally, the organization notes, the proposal assumes that, ultimately, homeownership is the most reasonable option for the displaced; discounting that rental housing is necessary to sufficiently overcome the re-housing challenge.

“In all Katrina-affected areas of the Gulf Coast 302,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged in the storm,” NLIHC’s draft damage assessment concludes. “Seventy-one percent of the housing stock destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina was affordable to low-income households and 30% were affordable to very low-income households. Forty-seven percent of the housing units in the entire Katrina-affected area were rental units.” NLIHC recommends, alternatively, that the government increase choices for the newly homeless low-income residents–allowing them to relocate or rebuild in their hurricane ravaged communities, or to pursue rental housing or purchased homes–and make available replacement housing superior to the housing that was lost.

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