by Larry Lemmons
Amarillo, Texas - There are about 2400 people in Amarillo on the waiting list to receive vouchers for housing. A past disaster will help some of those people.
The City Commission voted Tuesday to add 51 new housing assistance vouchers for families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita who have relocated to Amarillo.
More than 1800 people were killed and many more lost their homes in August of 2005. Now more than four years later 4500 people in Louisiana and Mississippi are losing their temporary homes.
Amarillo will get federal money to allow 51 of those families to move here if they wish. Patty Hamm, Housing Administrator for the City says, "HUD hasn't made new vouchers available for years so this was an opportunity for the City of amarillo to get money to help an additional 51 families, whether they're these families or families on our waiting list."
The Katrina and Rita disaster victims take precedence, but if none come here, the vouchers can be used for local folks. Hamm says, "Different situations. They might be living in substandard housing, doubled up with families or friends. We have a number of homeless families on our waiting list or they're paying a high percent of their income toward their rent so they have a high rent burden, so just a lot of different situations."
After the hurricanes, the city says about 100 families initially came to Amarillo but they say few stayed and put down roots. Most went back home.