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Monday, December 12, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Judge orders one-month extension of FEMA hotel housing

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS – A program that put Hurricane Katrina evacuees in hotels must be extended until Feb. 7, a month beyond the deadline set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a judge ruled today.

.Stanwood Duval's temporary restraining order is part of a class action lawsuit failed in November by advocates for hurricane victims.

Attorneys pressing the lawsuit said FEMA should not be allowed to end the hotel program because it has failed to provide other housing aid, such as rental assistance checks, to many victims who qualify for it.

Also, information on how to apply for the aid has been slow to reach those who need it most, the attorneys said.

FEMA continues to pick up the tab for an estimated 41,000 hotel rooms in 47 states and the District of Columbia at an estimated cost so far of about $350 million.

Howard Godnick, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, said the ruling will ease the burden on Katrina victims stuck in hotels and unable to find other housing.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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