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FEMA housing program for Gulf Coast residents ends

Brenda Steele cries as she explains what she will do if FEMA takes the mobile home her husband and children moved into in July 2006, four months before her husband died.

"They start to get it," she said, "they're going to have me and the kids in it. They'll pull it down the road with me and the kids in it."

Steele, who lives in Harrison County, said FEMA has just informed her she can buy the trailer for $7,500, but she doesn't have that kind of money. Her 44-year-old husband suffered multiple health problems, and so do her two children.

She once worked 16-hour shifts, but feels she can no longer afford a job. Her children would lose their Medicaid, she said. One of her daughter's prescriptions is $600 a month.

Steele is one of 1,910 Mississippians for whom FEMA assistance ends today after an agency record of 44 months.

"We know it's a difficult time for families affected by Hurricane Katrina," said FEMA spokesman Eugene Brezany. "We're doing everything we can to move them into permanent housing solutions."

The Mississippi Case Management Consortium of nonprofits, funded by FEMA, is working with residents to find permanent housing.

In many cases mobile home residents are purchasing their units. Those in travel trailers do not have that option. FEMA decided against selling the trailers because of formaldehyde complaints and high formaldehyde levels in some.

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