LEAGUE CITY, Texas (AP) — Some Galveston County residents getting federal housing assistance after being displaced by Hurricane Ike are worried they could soon be evicted because their rents aren't being paid.
The Disaster Housing Assistance Program provides rental assistance for residents until repairs are made to their homes damaged by Ike when it came ashore near Galveston on Sept. 13.
The program, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the Galveston Housing Authority, gives qualified residents vouchers to find apartments or rental houses. The landlord who accepts the voucher signs an agreement and the housing authority uses its $81.7 million budget from HUD to pay the rents.
Of the 7,000 Galveston County families who qualify for federal housing assistance, 1,800, or 26 percent, have found housing and 74 percent have not.
But some landlords haven't received rent in two and three months and they are now evicting tenants or refusing to accept new tenants, making it difficult for those who qualify to find places to live, The Galveston County Daily News reported Sunday.
Darla Ford, who lost her Galveston rental home in a fire during Ike, is worried she might be evicted from her new home in League City.
"It's so hard to go to bed at night wondering what's going to happen to you in the morning," she said. "It just feels like nobody cares about us."
At least 1,653 Galveston County families are still living in hotels, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency records.
Cynthia Boone, still in a hotel, said she had been turned away by at least 15 landlords who refuse to accept her voucher.
Buzz Elton, a landlord who has supported the program, said the housing authority has missed rental payments for disaster housing assistance residents and for Section 8 residents living in his properties.
"It's been a challenge and I'm not sure yet what's going on," he said.
Galveston housing authority officials did not provide a number for how many residents have been evicted.
Christina Allen was recently hired by the housing authority to straighten out the problem with landlords.
FEMA has been sending residents "bridge payments," money to supplement rent until the Galveston Housing Authority resumes rental payments to landlords, Allen said.
"A lot of tenants have received bridge payments, but they're not using them for rent," she said.
But some residents getting help said they were unaware these "bridge payments" were to be used for rent.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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