Congressman Al Green Files Amicus Brief to Prevent Hurricane Evacuees from Becoming Homeless

May 25, 2006

(Washington, DC)--Congressman Al Green (TX-09) today filed an amicus brief together with Congressman Barney Frank (MA-4) and 60 other Democratic Members of Congress in the case of Watson v. FEMA, challenging FEMAs decision to cut off emergency housing assistance to 50,000 low-income evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on May 31, 2006.

Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees from across the country filed a class action lawsuit on May 19 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas to stop FEMA from cutting off emergency housing assistance for 17,000 families on May 31. Watson v. FEMA addresses FEMA's attempts to end its Section 403 emergency housing program and transfer evacuees to its Section 408 temporary housing program or cut off assistance all together.  The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order to force FEMA to extend the deadline to June 30, 2006.

"FEMA's decision to end Section 403 is unconscionable and may render homeless thousands of the most vulnerable victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," Congressman Al Green said.  "Without injunctive relief, the poorest victims of these disasters, many of which are elderly, disabled, and young children, will become homeless through no fault of their own.  It is essential that FEMA live up to its responsibility of assisting victims of natural disaster by extending the deadline for each affected household, and resolving the numerous problems associated with the agencys inconsistent administration of its policies."

"The fact that defenders of the low income victims of Hurricane Katrina have turned to the courts for relief is not a reliance on some sort of judicial activism; it is the unfortunate consequence of the Bush Administration's ability to carry out their responsibility, and the unwillingness of the Republican Congress to require them to do so,"  House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Barney Frank said.