Recently in Gulf Coast Revitalization Program Category
Helping the Katrina Homeless New Orleans is struggling with a growing number of sick and disabled people who have become homeless since the hurricane. This crisis will only get worse until local, state and federal officials come together behind a plan that finds short-term housing for them immediately, and permanent affordable housing for them quickly.
Congress can start by approving a modest, $73 million in funding to house many of the region’s ill and disabled residents, who would also be provided with psychiatric and social services. Such a measure passed the Senate, but it is facing resistance in the House.
Congress also needs to take at least two additional steps to prevent even more people from becoming homeless in New Orleans, where rents have soared since the storm. It should extend the disaster housing assistance program, which is set to expire in March 2009, so more people are not forced into the streets. It should also rewrite federal disaster law to permit the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide the long-term assistance that thousands of hurricane survivors are clearly going to need.
In New Orleans, homeless services agencies estimate that the homeless population has doubled since the storm. The homeless are said to be sicker and more severely disabled than in the past. Outreach workers have come across people suffering from severe mental disorders, as well as from cancer, AIDS and end-stage kidney disease.
In what could be a harbinger of things to come, 30 percent of the people surveyed in one homeless encampment reported that they had moved onto the streets after being cut off from Federal Emergency Management Agency housing assistance or while living in a household that had lost the benefit.
The state of Louisiana has committed itself to creating 3,000 units of supportive housing targeted to extremely low-income families, which includes many people with disabilities and special needs. But for the units to be affordable, Congress must pass the $73 million in funding to pay for rent subsidies.
This would be a terrible place to economize. The dollar amount is small, and the lives of some of this country’s most vulnerable citizens — who were already abandoned once by their government — are at stake.
California State Association of Letter Carriers Resolution – Adopted April 12, 2008
Gulf Coast Reconstruction Program
WHEREAS: During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the world watched the United States government stand by and let thousands of African Americans and poor people in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast suffer and hundreds die a most tragic and unnecessary death; and
WHEREAS: Robert “Tiger” Hammond, president of the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO recently said, “Parts of this town look like a nuclear bomb hit two days ago, not like it was two years ago.”; and
WHEREAS: The AFL-CIO Housing Trust (HIT) is participating in the $1 billion Gulf Coast Revitalization Program for New Orleans and other communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina; and
WHEREAS: The AFL-CIO will be investing in the building of modular housing and will coordinate union sponsored worker training programs; and
WHEREAS: The AFL-CIO community fund and affiliated unions have raised millions of dollars to assist Katrina Survivors; and
WHEREAS: ILWU Locals 10, 19, 52 and the International in conjunction with the African American Longshore Coalition sent several 40 foot containers of humanitarian and construction supplies and vehicles along with financial support to the Gulf; and
WHEREAS: Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters volunteered to drive trucks filled with supplies to the Gulf for survivors; and
WHEREAS: The American Federation of teachers has dispatched tutors and specialists to assist local workers in preparing for apprenticeship opportunities, investing its resources in the people of New Orleans despite the city’s attacks on public education and wholesale privatization of education; and
WHEREAS: Almost immediately after Katrina, President George W. Bush issued an executive order suspending prevailing wage requirements on federally funded projects. Bush and the Republican controlled Congress suspended affirmative action requirements, relaxed environmental regulations, and started handing out privatized no-bid contracts like they were bottled water; and
WHEREAS: In the weeks after Katrina and Rita, New Orleans witnessed an influx of more than 150,000 workers from outside the region, many recruited from Mexico and Central America by temporary agencies; and
WHEREAS: Fifty percent of migrant day laborers were never paid for their work and the New Orleans Workers Center has countless stories of transient workers who showed up at a certain location to get paid, and instead were met by ICE agents and deported; and
WHEREAS: Katrina brought about the largest displacement of African Americans in the U. S. South since the post-Reconstruction period at the end off the 19th century; and
WHEREAS: Both Katrina survivors (witnesses) and prosecutors at the International Tribunal on Hurricane Katrina and Rita called for a reconstruction program to rebuild the Gulf; therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the California State Association of Letter Carriers support the call for the implementation of a federally funded Gulf Coast Reconstruction Program which shall include prevailing wages for workers, and the right to organize; and therefore be it further
RESOLVED: The Gulf Coast Reconstruction Program include the right to return to the Gulf, a Gulf Coast Public Works Program (similar to the WPA of the 1930s) and building solidarity committees nationally to continue the struggle for a just reconstruction; and therefore be it finally
RESOLVED: That this Resolution be sent to our affiliates and forwarded to the Democratic leadership of the House, the Senate, and the Congressional Black Caucus.