2005/09/23

Housing those displaced by Katrina being bungled

The Washington Post and other media today reported on how housing those displaced by Katrina is rife with delays and bureacratic snafus. Apparently FEMA is trying to house evacuees in newly-created trailer parks which have been described as new "ghettos of despair". Interesting and revealing was the story out of Louisiana about parishes that were refusing to accept the evacuees. One parish in question was 90% white and the evacuees 90% black. The world looks on in wonder and amazement. Just how did this country get to be a world superpower? For full story go toHousingthedisplaced


Surveys of evacuees in Houston shows those left behind are among the least self-sufficient: About two-thirds do not have bank accounts, credit cards or insurance; most had family incomes of less than $20,000, and half have children younger than 18.

With trailers proving a less than ideal solution, FEMA officials are lining up 18,000 units in hotels, motels, cruise ships, closed military bases and rental units.

FEMA initially ordered 125,000 trailers that it planned to deploy as close as possible to affected cities, following a playbook the agency relied on after four Florida hurricanes and its New Orleans exercise last year. In the days after Katrina hit, FEMA officials claimed to have 6,000 FEMA-owned trailers in Louisiana, hoped to install 30,000 homes every two weeks and planned vast campuses of as many as 15,000 units, according to various media reports.

Testifying to Congress last week, David Roberson, speaking for the Manufactured Housing Institute, noted production capacity limits and said that the industry built 130,000 homes in all of 2004.

Another critical choke point is the shortage of land served by utilities. FEMA teams have examined 600 proposed sites, but "only about 33 had the infrastructure in place," said FEMA area housing commander Ron Sherman.

Contractors also cite paperwork problems. Roberson said as of Sept. 15, FEMA had pushed through contracts for only 10,000 homes, while orders for 18,000 were pending for days.

Jim McIntyre, FEMA's chief housing spokesman, said 350 to 500 trailers are being delivered a day. "The magnitude of contracts is causing some delays, but all are going through as quickly as possible. No one is holding up funding," McIntyre said. As of Thursday, FEMA had about 3,100 trailers in Louisiana and 7,000 in Mississippi and Alabama, he said, of which 1,134 were occupied.

But in Baton Rouge and Washington, some state and federal officials say FEMA's reliance on trailers is increasingly unpopular at all levels of government and in both political parties. Some are alarmed at reports that FEMA trailer cities in Florida have regressed into "ghettos of despair," in Newt Gingrich's words, with high rates of poverty, crime and social strain.

Several Louisiana parish leaders have balked at relaxing zoning or other standards to permit settlements, noting that most local governments are already poor, have limited infrastructure and suffered Katrina damage.

1 comment:

jaybird said...

Got yourself a technocrati tag, eh?