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FEMA ordered to pay Utilities

Thursday, July 13, 2006

  • Craig Castellanet
  • Public Interest Law Project
  • Source: Katrina (Decommissioned)

In a significant victory for evacuees, FEMA was ordered today to reimburse Gulf Coast evacuees for the full amount of fair market rent, including utilities. U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner issued a Preliminary Injunction today in Watson v. FEMA which requires the agency to pay amounts for utilities for all recipients of Temporary Housing Assistance under the Section 408 program. Prior to this ruling, FEMA would only provide reimbursement where utilities were included as part of the rental charge. Judge Hittner also orders FEMA to notify recipients of Section 408 assistance that they may use FEMA assistance for utilities, and prohibits FEMA from terminating assistance on the basis of the fact that an evacuee used FEMA funds for utilities.

The entire order is available at, along with other guidance on FEMA's programs. For those working with evacuees, please let them know they should expect to get this assistance.

Congratulations to all involved in the case, particularly the lead pro-bono firm, Caddell & Chapman.


Craig Castellanet
449 15th Street, Suite 301
Oakland, California 94612
Public Interest Law Project
510-891-9794 x132
Fax (510) 891-9727

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