By now evacuees know that regional organizers are helping them find housing. About 2,000 families in a 12 county East Texas region have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Some come from public housing. Then there are the evacuees who rented or owned a home.
The first evacuees were lucky enough to be placed in nice apartments, sometimes better than what they were accustomed to. Now hundreds more evacuees are having a difficult time finding suitable housing. A New Orleans evacuee said at a housing meeting, "I was living in prime neighborhoods. I know some of the landlords here are trying to put you in housing that's not fit for anything. I wouldn't put a dog in them."
Landlord Chuck Beckham knows what's she's talking about. "There's a lot of people out for the almighty dollar." The 74 year old jail minister isn't one of them. He has listed his modest cottage for evacuee housing. The one bedroom, one bath home isn't elaborate, but it provides shelter and meets the Section 8 housing standards. "I know there's properties around Nacogdoches that probably would not be considered livable by even less standards than maybe HUD would have," said Beckham.
And the message DETCOG is sending those landlords is...you need not apply. DETCOG Director and housing facilitator Walter Diggles told evacuees, "Those are section 8 quality standards of means. They're certain standards every landlord or every apartment will have to come up to, so I don't think there will be a problem with us working with the program."