On Monday, February 13th, the New Orleans homeless population will skyrocket, and the survivors of Katrina will be victimised again.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's short-term hotel program expires for most of the 26,000 displaced hurricane survivors and most of these evacuees have not been provided with long-term, or even transitional housing solutions.
For those lucky enough to have gained access to FEMA's long-term resources, many have been told they must live far from their jobs, far from homes needing repair, and out of reach of their communities. Transitional housing is meant to aid people in fixing up their houses and reclaiming their previous lives. Despite not having any local long-term housing for the hotel guests, the National Guard is on call to evict people at gun point. There are three groups of people who are making the decision to evict these people; these three groups should be the targets of our dissent.
The Short Term Lodging program is required to provide shelter until transitional housing is provided. All FEMA guests should be extended until a long-term solution has been found for them. Rental assistance needs to cover a market that is roughly triple the pre-Katrina levels. Trailers must be placed locally for survivors to maintain their jobs, rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives.
Many hotels refuse to honor FEMA extensions beyond the 13th preferring instead to house wealthy tourists for the Mardi Gras season. However, according to the Chief Financial Officer of a hotel group, FEMA is paying the going rate for each room, each day. According to several managers, the hotels have made more money this winter season then they have in many years. All extensions from FEMA should be honored and, if someone doesn't have a place to stay, the hotels should grant them a few amnesty days before eviction – it is the hotels turn to give back to the survivors whose tragedy has made them so wealthy. Few of the hotels housing FEMA guests are: the Marriott, the Sheraton, Quality Inn: Maison St. Charles, Royal St. Charles, Queen and Crescent, and the AmeriHost Inn and Suites. People should be present at all of these hotels on Monday. If you cannot come to New Orleans you can hold solidarity actions at the chains local venue. If you live in a major city, it's likely that hotels in your town are evicting evacuees on 2/13 – there are thousands across the country. When you call the hotels in New Orleans please be nice to the staff, they are mostly survivors living as FEMA guests too.
Hundreds of FEMA trailers have arrived in New Orleans, yet they sit in train yards unoccupied. City officials continue to bicker over where the trailers should be placed. Many public housing developments also lie vacant, despite remaining virtually unscathed through the storm. The only solution the Governor has offered is a thirty day shelter program in either Baton Rouge or Lafayette. This is not an option for those who maintain jobs or are fixing up their homes within New Orleans.
On Monday, opponents of the scheme will be taking to the streets in protest against the evictions.
You can call or email messages of protest to the following places (US phone numbers need the prefix +1)
CONTACTS-FEMA Nicol Andrews, Deputy Strategic Director, 202-646-7917, [email protected]
-MAYOR NAGIN ph 504-658-4900, fx 504-658-4939
-CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ph 504-658-(1010 John Batt) (1020 Renee Pratt) (1030 Jacquelyn Clarkson) (1040 Cynthia Morrell) (1050 Cynthia Lewis) (1060 Ed Sapir) (1070 Oliver Thomas)
-GOVERNOR BLANCO ph 866-366-1121, fx 225-342-7099
WHEN YOU CALL OR WRITE:
· Tell each council member and the mayor to provide housing now! Council members must stop pushing trailer parks out of their districts, and the mayor must take a stand for housing NOLA citizens. Now is not the time for self-interested political jockeying.
· Tell the elected officials: There are major absentee voting efforts organizing their evacuated constituents. If they do not act in the best interests of ALL their constituents they will be defeated in the upcoming elections.
· Tell the elected officials: Governor Blanco's plan to shelter survivors for 30 days in cities far from their jobs and their damaged homes is unacceptable. Those shelters must be provided in New Orleans.
· Tell the elected officials: Our tax funded National Guard should not be used to force survivors into homelessness at gunpoint.
· Tell FEMA: that they are mandated by the Stafford Act to provide housing for disaster victims for eighteen months. Their attempt to cut-off shelter programs is illegal as well as immoral.
· Tell FEMA: The Stafford Act requires that transitional housing and rental assistance must be provided locally to the survivors workplace. Trailers hours outside of NOLA are not feasible, or acceptable.
· Tell everyone: The money that has been pledged to the recovery belongs to the people, not the corporations. Homeowners need the grants to rebuild, give corporations the loans – they were insured.
· Tell these hotels to honor the FEMA extensions Don't evict hurricane survivors into homelessness to house wealthy Mardi Gras tourists! Royal St Charles 504-587-3700, AmeriHost Inn and Suites 504-299-9900 Quality Inn: Maison St Charles 504-522-0187
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