News Release

Hurricane Evacuees: No Home For the Holidays


Last week, Katrina evacuees received notice that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will stop paying their hotel bills on Dec. 1. Currently, implementation plans are unclear.

Sheth is communication director for the Miami Workers Center, which has been organizing relief efforts for families displaced by Hurricane Wilma. She said today: “Low-income residents face two disasters when hurricanes come: one natural and one economic. FEMA is putting families in double jeopardy by discontinuing housing assistance for hurricane victims. … The Gulf Coast’s and South Florida’s affordable housing stock was largely destroyed under the storm because the homes most vulnerable to storm damage, the older, more dilapidated homes, were often the most affordable. And now, these same regions are facing evictions and mass homelessness.”
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Brown is a founding member of Save Our Selves, a coalition of more than 115 groups with ties to low- and moderate-income rural communities in the South. She said today: “Historically as well as during this latest crisis, we learned that we cannot count on FEMA, the Red Cross or other government agencies for equitable relief and recovery efforts truly aimed at creating lasting benefits for our communities — especially concerning housing. As survivors helping other survivors, we have learned time and time again that we have to save ourselves.”

Bervera is co-director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children. She said today: “This holiday season, many families will be separated from their loved ones who remain locked behind bars in prisons and jails all over Louisiana despite the fact that they have served all their time. … Many of these prisoners were arrested the weekend before Katrina for offenses like public drunkenness, trespassing or disturbing the peace and have never been in front of a judge. None of these offenses carry a sentence of over two months — the length of time folks have now spent illegally behind bars.”
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Quigley is a professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans, temporarily located at the University of Houston Law Center. He said today: “Over half of the east bank of the city of New Orleans still does not have electricity. Even more don’t have natural gas. There are still places that don’t have running water. … FEMA is not disclosing information about health hazards to neighborhoods in a public way. FEMA has not provided the equipment needed to go back into their neighborhoods. … And now survivors in hotels have to be out by Dec. 1. Survivors I’ve spoken with want to move on but there is not enough sanitary and safe affordable housing for them to find.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167