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WASHINGTON, DC-The National Low Income Housing Coalition, along with close to 90 other groups, has written FEMA director R. David Pauliso–again–about hurricane refugees on the Gulf Coast still homeless more than a year after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma came ashore.

This letter was in response to a Nov. 29 ruling by US District Judge Richard Leon, which found that FEMA must resume rental assistance payments as well as provide three months retroactive payments to certain people who had been cut off from housing assistance by the agency. The notice provisions the agency sent out warning aid recipients of its decision to stop rental assistance were “unconstitutionally vague and uninformative,” the judge found. FEMA is appealing the decision.

“We have every expectation that you will implement, with all due speed, Leon’s ruling in Acorn vs. FEMA,” said the letter signed by NLIHC president Sheila Crowley. “The undersigned National and Gulf Coast organizations stand ready to assist you in spreading far and wide the news of some displaced households’ reinstated and retroactive benefits.”

The letter also suggested FEMA set up a separate toll free line for people to call to see if they fall under this ruling; create easy to understand multilingual flyers advertising the toll free number and the ruling; and develop simple processes for people to receive the retroactive benefits and ongoing payments.

Since the ruling, NLIHC has charged that FEMA is not making suitable progress in its compliance. According to NLIHC, even though FEMA is appealing, the judge’s stance is that the agency must still comply.

In October NLIHC, together with 91 other national and Gulf Coast housing and poverty advocacy groups, took the unusual step of asking FEMA to transfer the hurricane refugees remaining in its housing assistance programs into HUD’s Disaster Voucher Program.

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