On Wednesday, September 28, Secretary Jackson visited Houston, Texas, to bring comfort and relief to Katrina evacuees locally and across Texas. Mr. Jackson brought word of the Bush Administration's new Katrina Disaster Housing Assistance Program (KDHAP), which will provide housing assistance for up to 18 months to evacuees who were public housing residents, Section 8 recipients or other beneficiaries of HUD assistance prior to Hurricane Katrina.
Secretary Jackson stopped at the George R. Brown Convention Center to inform Mayor Bill White of Houston and Harris County Officials about the newly funded program.
"This program will offer hope and healing to thousands of families who lost everything," said Secretary Jackson. "We will cut through the red tape and provide evacuees with the flexibility to move toward more stable housing. This is a joint initiative between HUD, FEMA, and our partners at the local government level."
Secretary Jackson complimented the City of Houston in its efforts to house the evacuees in such a short time. Almost immediately after Hurricane Katrina, city officials recognized that the developing situation would bring tens of thousands of people needing assistance to Houston. Working with HUD and other local housing agencies, the City formed a Katrina Housing Task Force to evaluate resources such as vacancies in all apartments, hotels, and houses available for rent, and plan for a massive need for housing.
"We're working very closely with HUD to provide housing with a sense of dignity for people who have been through much," said Mayor Bill White of Houston.
The program could be used to house thousands of evacuees in Houston alone. Many displaced people are living with family, friends, some with strangers. Still more live in hotels, and some in shelters. The new program will move evacuees from those living situations into more stable conditions. This will allow them to begin the process of rebuilding their lives in a dignified and safe way.
While in Houston, Secretary Jackson visited Primrose Casa Bella, a HUD insured senior apartment complex in the Houston area that has houses 140 elderly Katrina evacuees. The visit was emotional for all as Secretary Jackson personally reassured all senior citizens there that HUD was fully committed to help restore their living conditions to safe and decent housing.