Informing Redevelopment After Hurricane Katrina

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Wed Oct 19 08:51:22 CDT 2005


[ed:  here are two ACORN updates.]


From:
"ACORN News" <news at acorn.org>

ACORN: 10.18.05 ACORN Katrina Survivors Association Announced 
     ACORN News 
      Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
      www.acorn.org 
      ACORN News: October 18, 2005 
      Help ACORN Rebuild


     ACORN Katrina Survivors Association Will Unite Displaced Residents to Work for a Just Recovery
           



            ACORN member Paul Fernandez hangs a "No Bulldozing!" sign in the 9th Ward.
           
      On October 18th, ACORN announced the formation of the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association (AKSA) -- the first nationwide organization of displaced New Orleans residents and other Katrina survivors. The AKSA will unite members of our displaced communities in order to demand more effective relief efforts and a voice in the rebuilding process.

      "We want to return to our homes, and take part in rebuilding our communities," says Tanya Harris, a former resident of the Lower 9th Ward and a leader of the AKSA. "Right now, too many decisions are being made without us at the table." Harris and 1,600 New Orleans residents from across the country came together to form the Survivors Association, whose launch was announced today in a national phone-in press conference. 

      The ACORN Katrina Survivor Association plans to reach a total of 100,000 members in the next year. In the coming months,The AKSA will use public pressure, direct action, and dialogue with elected officials to win a platform that includes:



        1.. Respect and a voice -- Our voices need to be at the center of developing and implementing relief and reconstruction programs. 


        2.. Right of return - The people of New Orleans will not be kept out by deliberate attempts to change the make-up of the city, or by neglect, which gives the richer and more powerful first access to choices and resources. 


        3.. The means to take care of ourselves and our families - Survivors need help with housing, healthcare, income from unemployment, and assistance for those who've helped us. 


        4.. Rebuilding the right way - Reconstruction should include good and affordable housing, living wage jobs, and good schools for our children. 


        5.. Recovering together - The Hurricane should not be used as an excuse to cut health care and food assistance programs that help families across the country. 


        6.. Accountability and honesty - An independent investigation is necessary so we can understand what went wrong and how to protect ourselves in the future.

      The AKSA will continue and expand the organizing that local ACORN chapters have accomplished since Katrina first hit, which has already resulted in some notable actions and victories:



        a.. On October 7th, the Houston ACORN Hurricane Survivor Committee brought together survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their host families to confront Houston FEMA Director Tom Costello about a lack of response to the needs of the survivors. 


        b.. In negotiations a week later, FEMA agreed to a number of reforms to make services more accessible, including a shuttle bus to their service center, translated materials, and extending benefits to Rita survivors. 


        c.. Displaced New Orleans ACORN members have organized in shelters in Baton Rouge and other part of Louisiana, advocating for a "right to return" to New Orleans. 


        d.. On October 15th, Louisiana ACORN members staged a caravan into the Lower 9th Ward to claim their right to return and placarded hundreds of homes with signs stating "Do Not Bulldoze."

      In the coming weeks, the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association will conduct public events in Washington, D.C. and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and other cities around the country to build support for a recovery and rebuilding plan that reflects the needs and dreams of Katrina survivors. Read more at www.acorn.org/katrina. 

********************

From:  ACORN News <news at acorn.org>


ACORN: 10.12.05 Hurricane Survivors Demand FEMA Action in Houston
     ACORN News
      Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
      www.acorn.org
      ACORN News: October 13, 2005
      Help ACORN Rebuild


     ACORN Hurricane Survivor Committee Confronts Houston FEMA Director
          



            Houston ACORN members gathered on October 7, 2005 to address 
FEMA concerns.
          
      On Friday, October 7th, Houston ACORN brought together survivors 
of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their host families to confront 
Houston FEMA Director Tom Costello about FEMA's lack of response to the 
needs of the survivors.

      After two unsuccessful meetings with representatives from FEMA, 
the ACORN Hurricane Survivor Committee decided to direct their concerns 
directly to Costello. When two busloads of community members arrived at 
his office on Friday, Costello agreed to a meeting. He listened as ACORN 
members urged him to find immediate solutions to the unmet needs of 
hurricane survivors and address the flaws in the system designed to 
assist survivors in rebuilding their lives.

      ACORN members also wrote a letter to Costello with a list of over 
a dozen demands including rent and utility reimbursement funds to assist 
Houston families who have opened their homes to evacuees, extension of 
all FEMA benefits to Hurricane Rita survivors, and a clear written 
policy explaining the FEMA/Red Cross procedures for hotel and motel 
payments or reimbursements.



          

          

      From the Houston Chronicle:
      FEMA officials taken to task

      Leaders listen to ACORN group's complaints about storm assistance

      By ALLAN TURNER
      Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

      Waving red flags bearing their organization's logo and carrying at 
least one bullhorn, two busloads of community activists jammed the foyer 
of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's south Houston field office 
Friday.

      They were there to confront Houston FEMA coordinator Tom Costello 
about allegedly failed efforts to help Texas and Louisiana hurricane 
victims.


      Complaints lodged by leaders and members of Association of 
Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, included charges that 
pamphlets advising storm victims of FEMA programs were printed only in 
English and assertions that evacuees were being forced from hotels, had 
to wait more than 12 hours for hospital care and were being deprived of 
furniture they thought had been given them to keep.

      "All we are asking for is respect," ACORN leader Dorothy Stukes 
said in a statement. "We want our voices to be heard so our needs can be 
met."

      In presenting Costello a 10-point list of demands, Texas ACORN 
president Toni McElroy told the local FEMA chief that aggrieved members 
of her group were suffering "a lot of confusion and anger."

      McElroy conceded that agency representatives had met with ACORN 
members on at least two occasions, but complained that those officials 
seemingly lacked power to act on citizen complaints.

      She called for a meeting between Costello or other high-level FEMA 
officials and ACORN executives.

      Costello, who invited the ACORN delegation into an agency 
conference room for an impromptu question-and-answer session, met 
briefly with the group's leaders Friday afternoon.

      At times, the earlier meeting grew tense as individuals blurted 
out their personal complaints.

      Complaining that $2,000 stipends to hurricane evacuees were not 
sufficient to cover even motel expenses, New Orleans evacuee Anita 
Richardson fumed, "I can tell that you haven't experienced this. I can 
tell by the look on your face."

      Costello remained calm during the questioning, often explaining 
that his agency was not responsible for how local authorities administered
      FEMA-funded programs, for how hospitals managed their increased 
patient load or for the policies of individual hotel keepers.

      Often he directed members of the audience to other agencies, or to 
other FEMA staff members who had access to information regarding 
specific cases.

      "These people need help right now," said ACORN member James 
Roberts. "That means intervention, not 'go here, go there.' You're 
filibustering."

      "We're working on it," Costello responded.

      "We need someone to hold accountable," Roberts continued. "We're 
assuming you are."

      Roberts' comments drew applause.

      Among ACORN demands were the provision of rent and utilities 
reimbursement to Houston families who voluntarily hosted hurricane 
evacuees and expansion of apartment rental assistance to fully cover 
lodging and utilities expenses for one year.

      www.HoustonChronicle.com |



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