Elizabeth Dole's inaction on a key housing bill is worsening skyrocketing homelessness problem.
Today, victims of Hurricane Katrina and local advocates held a press conference at Sen. Elizabeth Dole's office in Raleigh calling on the Senator to take action to save homes in the still-devastated Gulf Coast region.
Homelessness in New Orleans has doubled since Katrina struck in August 2005, according to recent reports, and thousands of families still live in temporary FEMA housing. Yet despite a housing shortage, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has authorized the demolition of more than 4,000 units of public housing in New Orleans – most of it barely damaged by Katrina. The homes are slated to be razed this week, without provisions for replacing them with affordable units.
At the same time, Congressional legislation to help homeowners, renters and public housing residents hurt by Katrina – the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act (S 1668) – has languished for months in the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, on which Sen. Dole sits. A bill with the same name (HR 1227) passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of 302-125 in March.
"I am asking Senators to find it in their heart and good conscience to support the public housing community in New Orleans and affordable housing for those renters displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita by allowing S 1668 to move forward," said Nana Nantambu, a displaced New Orleans resident now living in North Carolina.
"When Katrina hit, Washington leaders pledged to do what it takes and stay as long as it takes, to rebuild the Gulf Coast," said Chris Kromm, director of the Durham-based Institute for Southern Studies, which has closely monitored the Katrina recovery. "This holiday season, with thousands of Gulf families on the streets or in cramped FEMA trailers, Sen. Dole and others in the Senate must take action and make good on their promises."
Demonstrations are taking place across the country today – International Human Rights Day – calling on Washington leaders to take action for Katrina families.
For more information on the issue of housing in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Katrina, visit the Institute's Gulf Watch project: http://www.southernstudies.org/gulfwatch