Post-Quake Housing Aid Extended : Recovery: Program that pays for victims’ temporary living quarters will end in March, 1996.


Following anguished protests from condo owners, the federal program that pays for temporary replacement housing for Northridge quake victims has been extended for eight months, until March, 1996, federal officials announced Monday.

The program, which has already paid quake victims $1.2 million for temporary housing and repairs, had been scheduled to expire in July, about 18 months after the quake.

The extension also eases the aid restrictions that brought protests from owners of condominiums, Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Len DeCarlo said Monday.


“We re-evaluated our policy and found that many condo owners were in fact eligible for aid, so we extended it,” DeCarlo said.

The money is meant to cover rent on replacement quarters while the homes are being repaired. Eligible applicants receive a check for three months’ fair-market rent for accommodations appropriate for the size and composition of the household, he said.

Although the program applies to all homeowners, it has been condo owners who say they have suffered the most from delays in reconstruction caused by having to deal with builders, insurance companies, federal aid officials and city building permits.

As many as 75% of the condominium associations in the San Fernando Valley have yet to begin large-scale repairs, according to Gordon Scott of the Greenspan Co., which represents about 150 condominium associations engaged in negotiations with insurance companies.

Many condo owners complained to government officials and at public meetings that FEMA refused to provide them with temporary housing aid, saying the desired repairs were merely cosmetic or to meet new building codes.

FEMA officials originally said that no assistance would be provided for repairs to common areas of condo complexes or for upgrading areas.


That stance unfairly penalized some condo owners because repairs to common areas in such complexes typically involve walls that are part of residents’ homes, said Adrienne Krikorian, an attorney representing three condominium associations.

Work that FEMA considered “mitigation or upgrades” often was required by city officials to make living quarters safe, Krikorian said.

Some condo owners welcomed the news.

“You mean we’re going to get it?” asked Ethel Polay, 77, who owns a Sherman Oaks condominium. “Wonderful!”

Polay, her daughter and 7-year-old grandson had originally counted on FEMA to pay for their moving expenses. “This certainly brightens the situation,” she said.

“I think it’s great that FEMA re-evaluated their guidelines,” said Krikorian, who was active in trying to persuade federal officials to change the FEMA policy. “We are very appreciative that they acted so quickly and addressed our concerns.”

To be eligible for aid, DeCarlo said, condo owners can submit a “notice to vacate”--proof that they must move out because of damage caused by the Northridge earthquake or its aftershocks. Eligible repairs include any requirements mandated by local building officials that must be met, he said.


Kay Van Horn, an aide to Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills), said his office will continue to monitor calls from condo owners in his district who may still be confused by the policy.

“But we are delighted that it appears that (FEMA) has clarified their rules and regulations,” Van Horn said. “It will make it very clear to people who are having earthquake work done to their homes and have to be out of them, that they will be helped.”

After a condominium owner applies, FEMA will contact the condo association’s management to verify the reasons for the temporary displacement and to confirm details of the construction project. FEMA will also verify the date each resident must vacate and when work will begin, and will obtain a summary of the work schedule and a scheduled completion date, DeCarlo said.

FEMA officials encourage those condo residents still in need to begin applying for assistance far in advance of their scheduled move and to bring documentation with them to nearby Earthquake Service Centers.

FEMA officials will sponsor a meeting Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Encino Elementary School to explain to condo association representatives the recent extension and clarification.

Times staff writer Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this story.