FEMA Extends Housing Deadline Through August 2007

Governor Haley Barbour announced late Friday afternoon that FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security will extend the Katrina temporary housing program by six months through the end of August 2007.

"I am grateful the Bush Administration has granted this necessary extension of the temporary housing program. Even though the number of Mississippians relying on this program is reduced each month as housing is rebuilt, it is clear thousands of our citizens will be without permanent housing six months from now," Barbour said in a statement.

"I am confident the Bush Administration will continue to work with state and local officials to address the need for temporary housing which will exist after this six-month extension."

Governor Barbour requested a year-long extension of the temporary housing program in December. It was set to expire at the end of February 2007.

Aaron Walker, a spokesman for FEMA, confirmed the extension Friday afternoon, soon after Barbour's announcement.

"We have always recognized the overwhelming burden that this (storm) has placed on disaster victims," Walker said.

"We're committed to the recovery of the Gulf Coast region, and we recognize that housing is one of the region's greatest challenges. We felt like a six-month extension was certainly appropriate in this situation."

As of Jan. 16, 2007, there were 30,141 temporary housing units (travel trailers and mobile homes) in service. These units are being returned to FEMA at an average of 250 units per week.

The official announcement on the extension by the Department of Homeland Security is expected early next week.