Rent To Utilities Article
HOUSTON - A federal judge ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday to let hurricane refugees in its temporary housing program spend unused portions of their rental assistance on utility bills.The number of evacuees who could benefit from the preliminary injunction is uncertain, but it is likely "in excess of six figures," said attorney John Scofield, who is representing Hurricane Katrina refugees in a class-action suit against the agency.
FEMA is reviewing the order and "determining what ramifications it has for the agency and FEMA's housing policy," spokesman Aaron Walker said. The ruling would help refugees pay utility costs when the amount of rental assistance they're eligible for exceeds their actual rent. The difference in most cities is typically around $100, Scofield said.
Families whose rent meets or exceeds what FEMA provides won't receive any additional money to help cover utilities.