[JURIST] More than 4,500 occupants of hotel rooms provided by the government [FEMA hotel use report] to those affected by the Hurricane Katrina disaster [JURIST news archive] were ordered to leave Tuesday as the Federal Emergency Management Agency [official website] began to end its hotel accommodation program [press release]. According to FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney, occupants of 20,000 other government-paid hotel rooms were given extensions by FEMA until at least next week and possibly until March 1, 2006.
The timing of the evictions is largely a result of a December 2005 federal court ruling [JURIST report] that FEMA could not end the program for hurricane refugees until February 7, one month later than the agency had planned. The ruling was in response to a motion [JURIST report] made by plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit [PDF complaint; JURIST report] against FEMA over the agency's denial of temporary housing to Katrina victims. FEMA says that most of those being forced out this week have made other living arrangements, many receiving federal rent assistance or living with relatives, but protestors in cities in New York and California have held demonstrations opposing the evictions. AP has more.