Houston and Galveston reporters turned out for a news conference this morning at the Galveston Island Community Center. Galveston Housing Authority Executive Director Harish Krishnarao gave an update on housing for displaced persons six months after Hurricane Ike. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"As of September 13, the Galveston Housing Authority obligation was (to) displaced 550 families," Krishnarao said. "A couple of days after the hurricane, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development contacted us and asked us 'Would you be interested in providing some additional services to families that were not part of the Galveston Housing Authority?'"
Krishnarao said that a "mind boggling" more than 6,400 families have signed up, "and it's growing."
He said that he has hired more than 80 "new highly qualified" staff to implement the Disaster Housing Assistance Program and assist families.
He said everything was falling into place until the Lone Star Legal Aid took action to block the demolition of Oleander Homes and Palm Terrace under emergency procurement. Thus, he said a new application has been submitted to HUD, but there will be a delay.
GHA Commissioner Raymond Lewis, Galveston City Council Member Tarris Woods, Mayor Pro Tem Danny Weber and City Manager Steve LeBlanc participated in the news conference, as did Ben Jay Stein, a property owner who participates in the Section 8 Program.
Stein said that he and his wife have worked hard to restore and improve their properties to provide housing to Galvestonians who are now living off the island, and he urged other landlords to do likewise.