DVP Extension Press Conference
Primrose Del Sol Senior Apartment Complex

MONDAY, JULY 23, 2007

Thank you, Guy (Rankin). Good morning. Thank you all for coming.

And Judge (Ed) Emmett, I am pleased you could come.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will extend its disaster housing assistance program until June 30, 2008. This is good news for the over 11,000 families who were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and who are currently registered for the program. In effect, there is an additional nine months of further support.

[Photo: DVP Speech]

As we approach the second anniversary of the natural disaster caused by these hurricanes, we recognize that unprecedented events produce demanding, long-term requirements. We must meet the housing, health, and community needs of those displaced, without forcing people into unsatisfactory choices that only exacerbate their difficulties. We have to encourage a better way of life. This extension is part of a series of actions by my department that will give those displaced a better range of options, while helping to move evacuees to self sufficiency.

This extension is important news for families still coping with housing displacement after the hurricanes.

First, if you are in a family who lived in public housing prior to the hurricanes, and continue to receive DVP assistance, this extension directly applies to you. It will give you nine additional months of rental coverage to live in the city of your choice. This extension also covers families who lived in other HUD housing programs prior to the storms, including senior and disabled housing; lived in other multifamily housing programs; and families who were homeless prior to the storm.

Second, families who participated in HUD's Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) prior to the storms will be reverted back to the HCV program that covered the cost of their housing prior to the storm. These families were transferred to the special Disaster Voucher Program temporarily to ensure their continued housing assistance during these months of recovery.

Finally, families who were displaced by the hurricanes who have not registered in the Disaster Voucher Program are still able to sign up. But they must do so by September 1st. These families can register by contacting the public housing authority where they are or where they would like to move.

I should note that, when we started this assistance, there were 30,000 families that registered. Now, we have a little over one-third of that number left in the program. The rest have either improved their financial situation and can make it on their own, or they are using other housing assistance programs. The Disaster Voucher Program is a temporary means of assistance, and we have been able to help about 20,000 families transition into other forms of assistance or into self-sufficiency. That fact should not be forgotten...and we will continue to help each family still needing disaster voucher assistance.

In addition to announcing this extension, I also want to mention that the Housing Authority of New Orleans has selected the University of Texas to conduct a survey of all of the residents who lived in public housing prior to Hurricane Katrina. This survey will determine if these residents want to return to New Orleans. Every family who wants to come home should have the opportunity to come back. HUD's goal is to bring families back to quality housing and safe communities.

I want to take a moment to thank all of the HUD and public housing agency staff who worked so hard over the last two years to help hurricane evacuees. I know that many of you have given enormously of your time and talents. Thank you so much. We still need your hard work and steadfast commitment. You are still needed, in some ways now more than ever.

And I would like to thank all of those who are served by HUD. I know this hasn't been easy; it has been one challenge after another. But we will get through this. And I emphasize that "WE" will get through this.

Thirty years ago, in his last Christmas sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that all of us are "tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality."

Indeed, we are made to live together. We must live and work together. We have learned this again and again over the past two years. And together we will weave our "single garment of destiny."

Thank you.


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