April 20, 2007
Reported by Associated Press
A lawsuit filed in federal court in New Orleans says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been stopping rental assistance to low-income people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita before giving them a chance to appeal the action.
Filed by a coalition of public-interest and private lawyers, including the Loyola Law Clinic, the suit aims to stop a practice it says denies Katrina's most vulnerable victims due process under the law and places them at risk of homelessness and increased poverty.
Steve Ronfeldt, whose California-based Public Interest Law Project is involved in the case, says one of the goals of the lawsuit, is to make sure that FEMA provides both 2005 hurricane evacuees and victims of future disasters "clear notification of reasons why they are denied continued housing assistance."
The suit charges that FEMA runs an unresponsive system of administrative review, issues confusing rental assistance termination notices full of little more than undecipherable acronyms and has failed to publish standards setting forth its rental assistance eligibility requirements.