On Tuesday, we offered a round-up of articles on housing recovery in the Gulf Coast in advance of Wednesday morning’s Congressional hearing on FEMA housing. Last night, the Associated Press posted coverage of the hearing, which began with the words: “The government could end up repeating mistakes seen after Hurricane Katrina without a better plan for housing people after a catastrophe . . . .”

One of the main problems that FEMA officials pointed out included that the housing they provide is meant to be temporary– and without federal or state governments stepping in to facilitate peoples’ return to permanent housing, FEMA is having to provide a service it simply isn’t equipped to provide.

“Our business is sheltering … we do not have the solution for how we re-establish housing stock,” said Craig Fugate, Director of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

FEMA is also restricted from spending a significant amount to repair permanent housing. According to Richard Skinner, FEMA’s Inspector General, FEMA is “hamstrung by federal laws limiting its role in the broader rebuilding effort.”

FEMA surely has its share of responsibility in the problems that have followed Katrina and Rita, but their testimony at yesterday’s hearing makes it clear that rebuilding and long-term recovery is a greater task than they were ever equipped to handle.

For more details, read Watchdog: FEMA still lacks housing plan.

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Lisa Swanson

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