WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday called the Bush administration’s handling of a Hurricane Katrina housing program “a legal disaster” and ordered officials to explain a computer system that cannot count evacuees with precision or explain why they were denied aid.
The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court, ruled last month that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had violated evacuees’ constitutional rights by eliminating their housing payments without notice. On Wednesday, he admonished the government for not moving fast enough to restart the program for 3,600 to 5,500 storm victims.
“Let me make this clear,” Judge Leon told Michael Sitcov, a lawyer for the government. “Tell FEMA that I’m expecting them to get going on this. Like, immediately.”
Judge Leon ruled that the agency last spring and summer had mishandled the transition from a short-term housing program to a longer-term program. Instead of explaining why financing was being cut, the agency provided only computer-generated and sometimes conflicting program codes, Judge Leon said.