A disaster relief program that could help with housing Americans displaced by California’s wildfires has not yet been put into action by the Trump administration — and according to ThinkProgress, officials won’t even say if they plan to use it at all.
> In parts of the state hit hardest by California’s most deadly and destructive wildfires that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people, emergency shelters have become full and available hotel rooms for people receiving Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance are scarce, according to the Washington Post.
> FEMA told ThinkProgress in an email that as of Tuesday morning, only 49 families (120 individual people) have checked into hotels through FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program. The TSA program pays for hotel sheltering for people displaced in emergencies.
> But there are other programs available to FEMA. The agency has thus far refused to enact a Department of Housing and Urban Development-administered program that would provide essential housing relief to those people in desperate need of stable housing. The Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, provides housing subsidies to survivors and evacuees, and covers the cost of rent, security deposit, and utilities.
In a statement to ThinkProgress, FEMA Press Secretary Lizzie Litzow said the agency is “still assessing the situation” and working with HUD to determine the best solutions.
But others believe the situation deserves more urgent attention.
> Advocates say help is needed now, and DHAP should be activated. “Families in California will need temporary homes from which to rebuild,” said Diane Yentel, CEO and president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in a statement to ThinkProgress. “The DHAP program is a far more cost-effective and more humane solution. Unfortunately, FEMA has consistently refused to put this best practice into action, resulting in predictable and preventable homelessness for some survivors.”