BILOXI, Miss. -- By Sept. 1, FEMA estimates only 450 occupied travel-trailers or mobile homes will remain in government and commercial parks, but that doesn't mean residents have found permanent housing. Uncertainty and distress accompany their shuffle from one temporary home to another, including hotel rooms, almost three years after Hurricane Katrina. So far FEMA has spent more than $11 million in Mississippi on hotel rooms and catered meals.
Those still in temporary housing say many landlords are reluctant to lease to tenants receiving FEMA rental assistance, which runs out in March. Higher post-storm rents have shut many out of the market. Some qualify for subsidized housing but are unable to find space because Katrina wiped out an estimated 800 units.
Many homeowners who have received insurance payments, federal recovery grants and volunteer assistance to rebuild are under the impression FEMA parks are inhabited by crack addicts and ne'er-do-wells who want government handouts. However, many of those with no place to go are like 52-year-old Cathrine Marsh: They survived before the hurricane but can't afford post-Katrina rents.
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