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Locating housing for disaster victims

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The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has developed a Web–based system to help federal, state and local agencies find housing for people displaced from their homes by natural disasters.

Citizant, a provider of government professional technical solutions, has worked with HUD on the National Housing Locator (NHL) system, which uses Web 2.0 concepts and a data-centric, service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the government realized it lacked a national inventory of available housing and embarked on the NHL project to fill that void. The inter-governmental tool combines federal housing resources and commercial housing locators in one platform. It enables rapid identification of available housing based on various search options, according to a press release from Citizant.

Citizant also reports that it has developed an integrated customer service/case management system to handle evacuee placement and emergency assistance delivery. The system has geospatial planning capabilities that help officials understand and compare options, and users can set up what-if scenarios to find the number of available units within certain distances. Web service capabilities allow FEMA and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs to integrate the NHL system into their online systems, according to the news release.

Citizant further reports that the team started developing the NHL in December 2006 and launched the first release in January 2007, and that the system has already helped relocate families displaced by tornadoes, floods and fires.

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