FEMA Controversy Continues - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

11.26.03

FEMA Controversy Continues

The Wilmington Housing Authority is ordering tenants to reveal whether they've received Hurricane Isabel damage checks, or face eviction.

The hurricane barely brushed Wilmington and the Housing Authority says none of its units were damaged.

But the Authority found out many tenants had notified the Federal Government their apartments were damaged, and cashed checks for hundreds of dollars.

Authority officials say they knew of no damage, and have launched an investigation.

Now the Authority is hand-delivering letters to tenants saying "any" income received, earned or unearned, including lump sum payments must be reported. Any claims "not" reported "will place you in eviction status."

One woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, cashed a nine-hundred-dollar check..

"It [the letter] made me very angry because first it implies that i did something wrong... I did not commit fraud and I'm tired of being accused of it"

She decided to do some investigating of her own. She found out that FEMA says, "Damage payments are not counted as income...for benefits programs funded by the Federal Government."

"They had inspectors out here and they handed out payments," the woman said. "And no fraud has been committed"

She says she did what she had to do to recover damages after the hurricane, and now she feels bullied into confessing, when she says she did nothing wrong.

"I want a hand-delivered apology from the Housing Authority and I want these letters re-sent," she said.

Reported by Maggie Alexander malexander@wect.com

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