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No Home for the Holidays: Stop Evictions of Katrina Evacuees
Published on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
No Home for the Holidays: Stop Evictions of Katrina Evacuees
by Bill Quigley
 

Sabrina Robinson lived her whole life in New Orleans. When Katrina and the floodwaters hit her house, she and her three children swam to a dry bridge where they lived for 2 days. "We watched people die," said Ms. Robinson. Now her family and 52 other families from New Orleans face eviction from the Houston apartment complex where they lived for the last month. Tens of thousands of other Katrina evacuees also face holiday evictions.

After a bus took the Robinson family to Houston, they slept on the floor for a month. On October 2, the family received federal housing vouchers from the Disaster Relief Center in Houston. Quail Chase apartments in Houston agreed to accept the vouchers. Ms. Robinson and 52 other families from New Orleans moved in to Quail Chase. After the families lived there for several weeks, Quail Chase changed their mind and refused to accept vouchers. Quail Chase has now given eviction notices to all 53 families. Now they face the streets again. "There is nothing else available," Ms. Robinson said. "All the decent housing is taken."

In the same spirit, FEMA announced November 15 it would quit paying for housing for most of the nearly 60,000 homeless Katrina families who are residing in government paid hotel and motel rooms.

In Texas, where 54,000 people are living in 18,000 rooms, Republican Governor Rick Perry said these evictions will "fuel the cycle of evacuees moving from one temporary housing situation to another - if they can secure housing at all."

The story is being repeated across the nation. In New York, 487 Katrina victims, including 115 kids, have been told their hotel rooms will no longer be paid. In the Carolinas, between 400 and 600 Katrina families in hotels face eviction even as local homeless shelters are already full.

Back home in New Orleans, legal aid lawyers estimate there will be 10,000 evictions filed in November against Katrina evacuees - more in one month than are usually filed in an entire year.

At this holiday time, resolve to stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of people victimized by Katrina and the floods that followed. Katrina evacuees in your community need your support. Stop the evictions in your community.

Nationally, 54 members of Congress, including all the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, have co-sponsored HR 4197, the Hurricane Katrina Recovery Act. Ask your representative to co-sponsor this bill and to take action to force FEMA to assist those still left behind.

There are also many other great grassroots, regional and national efforts underway to provide solidarity with Katrina evacuees. Many are listed at www.justiceforneworleans.org.

People displaced by Katrina do not want charity. What is needed at this holiday time is solidarity. Resolve to stand with the victims of Katrina as they search for justice.

Bill Quigley is a professor at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and can be reached at Quigley@loyno.edu.

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