HUD Disaster Housing Assistance Program extended

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has extended a post-Katrina disaster housing program helping more than 1,800 South Mississippians. The Disaster Housing Assistance Program or DHAP, provides rental help to people who did not have public housing assistance before the storm.

DHAP launched in 2007 to help people living in hotels who were still trying to rebuild or repair their homes.   The 18 month program made was set to expire at the end of February, but HUD officials told WLOX it's not clear how much longer the rental assistance will continue.

HUD records show 1,827 families in Mississippi's six southern most counties still receive the assistance.  HUD officials say the majority of the 31,000 families still using the program are in Louisiana.

New HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said, "We want to help families transition out of the DHAP program in a way that does not harm them during these difficult economic times."

Donovan says the Obama Administration has made two early decisions to accomplish this goal.

"First, I've asked all of the public housing agencies to invite and process all income-eligible families - not just senior and disabled families - for our Housing Choice Voucher program.  This will help transition more families, who are eligible for that program, into safe and affordable housing.  Next, we are working with the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, the Louisiana Recovery Authority, and Senator Mary Landrieu to provide additional time for families to make the transition.  We discussed options yesterday and hope to have a plan in place in the coming days."