Originally set for Nov. 30, the deadline for FEMA reimbursement of evacuees’ hotel bills now has been changed twice. Following a federal judge’s extension to Feb. 7, some cities and counties have expressed relief, saying they now will have more time to find permanent housing for evacuees. American City & County recently asked readers of its weekly e-mail newsletter whether they think the deadline is too generous, adequate or still too short. The following are some of the responses:
“The government should have given each renter a check for $50,000 and a release to never apply for help again. For homeowners, a check for $100,000 should help their new relocation and buy a new house. We have already spent at least this much on each, and we need a time limit for people to take responsibility for their own lives.”
— Al Goodman, consultant to H2O Savers
“I don’t know that we have all of the facts. Are these people all being properly assisted to find work so they can begin to support themselves, or are they just sitting around waiting for the government to look after them? We don’t really know what efforts are being taken to get them off of government support. All of the media we read just says they can’t be put out on the street because the government has not found them permanent housing.
There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of both rental and purchase properties that I can see for people who have an income, so what exactly is the root of this problem? Again, the information we are being ‘fed’ isn’t complete enough for us to form an opinion.”
— Jeff Allen, fire marshal, Irmo, S.C., Fire District
“Having spent the first two weeks in October in Baton Rouge, La., performing Red Cross volunteer work and, as part of that, visiting numerous shelters in Louisiana, the deadline should be extended as long as necessary to support those that lost their homes. The double-edged part of the sword here is that some recipients of the extended benefit could lose their incentive to locate alternative individual private housing. How can artificial bureaucratic deadlines be set for individuals that lost everything they possessed, and were allowed to ‘look and leave’ their former property?”
— Jeff Tkacs, homeland safety coordinator, Cortlandt, N.Y.