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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of the Katrina Housing Group on the Third Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
WASHINGTON - August 29 - Three years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast of the United States causing the destruction of hundreds of thousands of homes and the displacement of millions of people, a severe affordable housing crisis continues in the Gulf Coast states. Let us hope that Tropical Storm Gustav does not develop into a storm that causes further harm to the people of the Gulf Coast.
17,000 families still live in FEMA trailers, though many of these trailers have been proven to be toxic to human beings. 28,000 families who now rely on federal rent assistance will face a new crisis in six months, when that assistance is scheduled to end, because there are no affordable units to rent in their communities. Many more in need of housing aid have been cut off wrongfully. Homelessness in New Orleans is at record levels. Poor people whose homes were damaged in rural Texas and Alabama are still waiting for promised assistance to make repairs, and many in Louisiana who got some rebuilding help did not receive enough to complete the repairs necessary to make their homes livable. Thousands of residents in Mississippi were told they would get no help because, although their homes were battered by hurricane-force winds, they received no flood damage. Thousands of HUD-assisted units remain closed and neglected, while thousands of others have been demolished and not replaced. Families remain separated and once beloved communities are forever lost.
As extraordinary as the disaster of Katrina and Rita was, the failure of the recovery to rebuild the homes of the lowest income people is even more so. Poor planning, red-tape, mismanagement, and disregard of the needs of the lowest income families characterize the rebuilding efforts.
We, the members of the Katrina Housing Group, call for a renewed federal commitment to a housing recovery that includes all people who were displaced and room for everyone who wants to come home.
The Katrina Housing Group is composed of dozens of national and local non-profits, faith-based, legal service groups and organizations, which have met weekly since September 2005 to advocate on a federal policy response and to inform those communities that continue to struggle in the hurricanes' aftermath.
As we reflect on the fateful day of August 29, 2005, we remain steadfast in our advocacy, buoyed by the unwavering resolve and sheer will of the residents of the Gulf Coast. It is their continued determination to remake and better their communities, in the face of overwhelming odds, which offers hope for a better future.
But they cannot build that future alone. The rest of us, and our government, must help them. Congress must increase its oversight of the funding it has already provided to make sure that those most in need are truly being helped. Congress must also appropriate enough additional funds to finish the rebuilding job so that all of those displaced can have a home to return to.
We call on the Obama and McCain Campaigns to articulate what their respective administrations will do to assure decent and affordable homes in the neighborhoods of their choosing for all people who lost their homes to Katrina and Rita and to promise the people of the Gulf Coast that help and hope are on the way.
The Katrina Housing Group is convened by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Members include:
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
Appleseed Center for Law and Justice
Asian American Justice Center
Caddell Chapman, Inc.
Catholic Charities USA
Coan and Lyons
Enterprise Community Partners
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Everywhere Now Public Housing Residents Organization Together (ENPHRONT)
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Habitat for Humanity International
Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
Hip Hop Caucus
Jesuit Conference in America
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
National Affordable Housing Management Association
National AIDS Housing Coalition
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Association for the Mentally Ill
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Community Reinvestment Coalition
National Council on Independent Living
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Housing Conference
National Housing Law Project
National Housing Trust
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National Leased Housing Association
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National Policy and Action Council on Homelessness
NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church, USA
Public Interest Law Project
Technical Assistance Collaborative
Travelers Aid International
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
United Way of America
Volunteers of America
Gulf Coast/Other Organizations
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans
Coastal Women for Change
Christopher Homes, Inc.
City of Houston
Common Ground Solutions
Enterprise Corporation of the Delta
Fair Housing Center, Inc.
Florida Legal Assistance
From the Lake to the River: New Orleans Coalition for Legal Aid and Disaster Relief
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center
The Justice Center
Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation
Louisiana Housing Alliance
Lone Star Legal Aid
Memphis Area Legal Services
Mississippi Center for Justice
Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities
Moving Forward Gulf Coast
New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation
Providence Community Housing
Rich Smith Developers
South Bay Community Alliance, Alabama
Steps Coalition, Mississippi
Texas Low Income Housing Information Service
Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid
United Way Texas
UNITY of New Orleans
Volunteer Mobile, Inc