FEMA: Promises Made, Promises Broken

Bill Quigley
Date Published: 
April 1, 2006


ACORN and Allies Call on FEMA to Uphold Its Promise to Katrina Evacuees for Housing Assistance

ACORN Members Launch Grassroots Campaign to Reach Hurricane Survivors in Apartments to Apeal FEMA’s Ineligibilty Letters and to Secure Housing Assistance for All Elibigle Families

Members of the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association are calling on FEMA to keep its promises to evacuees to deliver continued support for housing assistance. The recent announcment to transition the housing voucher program in Houston from the City voucher program to FEMA individual assistance has driven tenants into panic about possible evictions at the end of May. This is in addition to the 8,900 housing ineligibilty letters that were mailed to evacuees in Houston recently.

“We are going door to door to help our neighbors from New Orleans navigate the broken system FEMA has implemented. Some of us are getting letters of ineligiblity from FEMA even though our houses are destroyed back home. Others are worried that with this sudden cut off we will be evicted or lose our apartments,” says Dorothy Stukes, President of the ACORN Katrina Survivors Assocaiation. “This is driving tenants and landlords into a panic. All we want is a stable place to live.”

ACORN is calling for FEMA to continue stable housing assistance:
1. FEMA cannot simply abruptly break their promise, and let evacuees suffer the consequences. They must work with tenants and landlords in Houston so that there is a smooth transition to secure safe and stable housing for Katrina Evacuees.
2. FEMA must create a clear and speedy appeal process for families receiveing letters of ineligibilty for housing assistance, and provide continued housing support during the appeal.
3. FEMA must quickly develop and implement procedures to deal with landlords who are requiring tenants to re-sign leases with differing terms, or requiring extensive credit checks and background checks to stay in apartments.

ACORN is working with allies in Washington DC to change FEMA’s policy on housing assistance.

“We cannot move forward from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina if FEMA chooses to leave behind those who need the most help. I am saddened to see that FEMA has neglected its duty, but I am more outraged that the American people are forced to bare the brunt of its poor decision making.” Said US Rep Al Green Houston District 9.

Our lives have already been shaken upside down, and we can’t afford to be destabilized again,” says Kemberly Samuels, leader of the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association. Yesterday, a Bipartisan Senate Committee report called FEMA s response to Katrina totally dysfunctional and pointed out that New Orleans and other Gulf Coast residents have paid the price in suffering and even loss of life. FEMA cannot be allowed to make another set of mistakes that threaten us with homelessness yet again. This is an outrage, and with ACORN we’re taking action to resolve this problem,” continued Samuels.

ACORN is encouraging all evacuees who want to appeal FEMA housing ineligibilty letters, or are having trouble with their landlords to call
ACORN (713) 868 7015.

The ACORN Katrina Survivors Association is the first nationwide organization of displaced New Orleans residents and other Katrina survivors. The Survivors Association unites members of our displaced communities in order to demand more effective relief efforts and a voice for survivors in the rebuilding process.

ACORN stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, with over 175,000 member families organized into 800 neighborhood chapters in 80 cities across the country. Since 1970 ACORN has taken action and won victories on issues of concern to our members. Our priorities include: better housing for first time homebuyers and tenants, living wages for low-wage workers, more investment in our communities from banks and governments, and better public schools.