TxLIHIS Karen Paup and NLIHC Sheila Crowley testify on housing disaster recovery

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Texas Low Income Housing Information Service co-director Karen Paup and National Low Income Housing Coalition president Sheila Crowley were among those who testified today before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee investigating the failures of the federal response to the provision of affordable housing in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Both Paup and Crowley praised the subcommittee’s report, issued February 23, which was highly critical of the roles of FEMA and HUD.

The housing advocates called for a completely new approach to providing housing assistance in the wake of disasters to low income citizens. They advocated a more fully funded “case management” approach in which a trained counselor would work with a family from the immediate aftermath of a disaster until the family secured permanent affordable housing. Crowley emphasized the need for much better funding and competent administration of programs designed to restore HUD financed rental housing as well as repair and produce additional privately owned affordable rental housing.

Paup outlined a series of programs that should be offered low income homeowners. Beginning with a recommendation of the subcommittee to establish civilian/military teams to make immediate repairs to damaged housing, continuing to better utilization and financial support for nonprofit and faith-based home repair activities, a universal extension of permanent section 8 vouchers to elderly homeowners or homeowners with disabilities and extending to alternative housing models involving partially or completely prefabricated housing units such as is being developed in prototype through the Texas Grow Home Program.

Karen Paup’s and Sheila Crowley’s full written testimony will be posted as a future entry on this blog.