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WASHINGTON, DC-Victims of Hurricane Katrina will have their housing issues addressed in a new format beginning as early as today, now that the heads of the US Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have put a new multi-program plan in place to remove those rendered homeless by the natural disaster from temporary shelters and place them into rental housing.

“Our goal is to use existing resources in an innovative way to help all displaced individuals and families move from temporary shelters to more stable, safe and sufficient housing,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says, announcing the endeavor with HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson. The initiative calls for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue checks totaling just over $2,300 for to FEMA-eligible hurricane victims to fund three months of rent. And HUD will provide financial aid to those who had been dependent on HUD assistance prior to Katrina, and to those who were already homeless.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has come out in support of the effort, but questions the organizations’ strategy for actually facilitating the new plan. “To their credit, the secretaries charted a path away from reliance on mass trailer parks to providing assistance directly to displaced people so they can rent homes wherever they choose,” NLIHC president Sheila Crowley says. “While we welcome many elements of the plan, the devil is in the yet-to-be revealed details; and, a plan has to be executed. Execution of plans by FEMA so far has left a lot to be desired.”

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