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FEMA Trailer Residents Unite as Housing Crisis Looms

San Francisco Bay View, News Report, Staff Posted: Jun 01, 2008

A deadline is fast approaching of either May 31 or June 1, when temporary FEMA-supplied housing for thousands of families from across the Gulf Coast will end and far too many will be left homeless unless we can get some action from the government and other institutions to provide assistance.

To that end, a coalition of FEMA trailer residents, organizers and advocates from across the Gulf Coast have drafted a letter to federal, state and local leaders that will be released at a press conference at the Christ Church Cathedral, 2919 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, on Thursday, May 29, at 1:30 p.m.

We request that organizations and individuals sign on to the letter and send it to their partner organizations and request that they sign on as well. All agreements to sign on should be directed to lauren@louisianajusticeinstitute.org.

The Louisiana Justice Institute, in partnership with the Childrens Defense Fund, has released a report on the dire circumstances of residents still living in FEMA trailers over two years after Katrina. In early January, LJI and CDF, with the help of law student volunteers, conducted outreach to over 500 and interviewed over 150 FEMA trailer residents across Louisiana. This report contains an analysis of the data gathered, as well as stories from the residents themselves.

With FEMA reporting that over 100,000 people still live in FEMA trailers across the Gulf Coast, it is even more worrisome that 55 percent of residents interviewed report that if they were to be evicted from their FEMA trailer they would have no family they could turn to for help and they expected to be homeless.

Read the report, No Way to Treat Our People.

Nothing could prepare us for the sight of children running through the Baker, Louisiana, FEMA trailer encampment during the middle of the school day. Where are the parents? Why arent these children in school? More importantly, why are all these families still here two and a half years after Katrina?

There really is only one answer to all three of these questions our government has created several communities of disposable people post-hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These communities hold individuals who have no guaranteed right to return to their homes notwithstanding all the international conventions and treaties calling for same. We have created in Louisiana Katrina Tribes, comprised of individuals without permanent homes, subject to dislocation through relocation at the governments will.

No Way to Treat Our People serves as a call to action. It is an indictment of our failed response to this disaster and provides an opportunity, for those willing to listen, to hear the voices of those left behind in FEMA trailers. But we must leave these victims with more than the tourist-bus-operator recounting of their suffering. So No Way to Treat Our People proposes a collective response and call for funding redress that makes our people whole.

Urge House members to approve affordable housing

The House of Representatives passed a domestic supplemental spending bill, but it did not include much needed funds for affordable housing in the Gulf States. On May 22, the Senate voted 75-22 for a domestic spending amendment that included Gulf States funding.

Advocates in the Gulf Coast have worked long and hard to secure these additional funds for affordable housing. They have succeeded in convincing the Senate Appropriations Committee and full Senate of the immense need that still exists in areas affected by the 2005 hurricanes. Now they need your help to make sure the full House of Representatives follows suit.

Call this toll free number, 1-877-210-5351, for the congressional switchboard and ask to be connected to the housing staffer for your representatives offices. Or send them an email: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2114/t/2612/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=24693

For more information, visit Katrina Information Network, www.katrinaaction.org.

Day of action Saturday spotlights levees, brings New Orleans, St. Bernard and south Louisiana together

Fed up with levees they cannot trust, the metro citys residents will rally at three Hot Spots: in Eastern New Orleans, at Bullard Avenue and I-10; in Lakeview, at Canal Boulevard and Harrison; and in Chalmette, at Paris and Judge Perez.

On the eve of Hurricane Season, Levees.Org will call for volunteers to be visible and to demand that Congress pass the 8/29 Investigation Act, an independent bipartisan analysis of the failures of Greater New Orleans federal flood protection system following Hurricane Katrina.

Levees.Orgs planned Day of Action was a featured top story on Yahoos homepage! Watch it.

If you havent yet, go to http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1625/t/2541/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=2124 and demand the 8/29 Investigation!

Get connected with other Levees.Org members and stay updated with the latest news, opinions and videos by joining us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/pages/LeveesOrg/10971099726. For more information, contact Sandy Rosenthal, the founder of Levees.Org, at www.levees.org. www.levees.org.

Editors note: Read Part 2 of last weeks story, Eve Enslers spectacular celebrates New Orleans women, at www.sfbayview.com.

Related Articles:

'Agenda' Connects New Orleans Diaspora

Half of New Orleans' Poor Permanently Displaced: Failure or Success?

Katrina Housing Grant Looted

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