Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in New York will not be put out in the cold if FEMA goes ahead with a plan to cut off hotel payments on Dec. 1, city officials said yesterday.
Three city agencies - the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Homeless Services and the Housing Preservation and Development Department - unveiled plans to fund a one-month extension of hotel stays for evacuees actively looking for permanent housing, while helping them move into apartments.

According to city figures, 487 Katrina evacuees, including 115 children, are now staying in seven hotels around the city.

"We requested that FEMA extend the hotel stays ... [but] they did not provide an answer," said Homeless Services Commissioner Linda Gibbs. "We will not allow anyone to be displaced."

The New York regional office of FEMA referred questions to the Washington office. An employee there could not say whether the deadline would be extended.

Outside HPD headquarters yesterday, evacuees from New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama who belong to the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association shivered in the wind in borrowed jackets as they told of fears of being displaced again.

"The plan the city announced today is a good first step, but it's not enough," said Bertha Lewis, executive director of New York ACORN. "These folks want to get out of the hotels. The government is spending an obscene amount of money to keep them there."

ACORN contends there are more than 2,000 evacuees staying in hotels here.

HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan said that of 42 evacuees who attended a housing fair yesterday, 33 had appointments to look at apartments.

Compassionate conservatism at its finest.