When I initially started this blog I anticipated that it would be about my assimilation into Los Angeles and a way to document my life. However, anyone that knows me knows that I am a complex person with various personalities. One minute I could be in my hood mode and speak with that vernacular. Then instantly I can turn serious and starting talking about community issues and politics. Then I might flip on you again and want to talk about things like the economy, personal finances, homeownership and failing school districts. Finally, I might go all girlie on ya and want to discuss beauty products, hair and garments. So basically I will be discussing a variety of issues on this blog so be prepared to see a great deal of issues addressed.
Yesterday there were many programs on T.V. that addressed the issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina. As I watched those images across my screen I immediately felt a rush of emotions.
I was sad, angry, annoyed and disturbed all at the same time. Yet while I only felt these emotions for a mere 1 hour program, the residents of New Orleans feel these emotions everyday. I have been told that great deals of Americans are in Katrina fatigue mode. This makes me mad as hell. How can we be tired of this, people are still suffering, premises were made and not fulfilled. Let’s not forget or get tired, these people are living in conditions that many of us can not image or fathom. With that in mind I want to discuss some of the issues faced by the people of the N.O.
New Orleans could lose as much as 80 percent of its black population if its most damaged neighborhoods are not rebuilt and if there is not significant government assistance to help poor people return, a detailed analysis by Brown University has concluded
Mafruza Khan of the Center for Social Inclusion provided the following information.
In Louisiana, trailers have been provided for about 37 percent of the estimated 90,000 displaced families in need of housing. Officials acknowledge production bottlenecks and in-state battles over sites. Trailer costs have swelled from $19,000 to $75,000 apiece.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration are struggling to meet unprecedented demands. FEMA is providing rental assistance to 700,000 families, but about 75,000 people are still in hotels. In some places, there is a shortage of rental housing available for evacuees.
As of Jan. 16, 18,943 applications for rental help had yet to be processed. As of this week, the SBA said that 190,000 of 363,000 applications for disaster loans to homeowners and businesses are still pending.
"It just doesn't seem to be well organized," said Ronald D. Utt, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has written about disaster housing policy. "Things in some respects have gotten more confused than they were a couple weeks after the storm."
When Katrina hit the Golf Coast region donations to Habitat for Humanity skyrocketed. With donations around 140 million dollars many families in New Orleans were counting on these donations to assist in rebuilding their homes. Sadly on 15 million was allocated to New Orleans resulting in only 70 homes being completed. Some people were told that their wait time may be three years if they want assistance from Habitat for Humanity.
Part of the problem is that while Washington provides basic flood insurance, the government depends on private insurance agents to sell it as part of a standard homeowners' policy. Interviews, lawsuits and complaints filed with the Louisiana insurance commissioner's office suggest that many agents are underselling the flood portion of policies while overselling the company-provided homeowners' part.Some homeowners, like Louis J. Gentry Jr., who together with his wife, Kim, just finished rebuilding their Lakeview home two years ago and insured it through State Farm, have discovered themselves financially "upside down" without enough flood coverage to pay off their mortgage.
Homeowners are worried — apparently with good reason — that the rules are about to be changed so that many will have to literally raise their houses in order to qualify for flood insurance. For tens of thousands whose post-World War II suburban homes were built on concrete slabs rather than above the ground on piers, that's a near impossibility.
The Road Home is a program that offers homeowners grants of up to $150,000 for uninsured hurricane damages. However, only 25% of applicants have actually received a check.
Aug. 29 might be the first anniversary of the worst hurricane to hit this city and the Gulf Coast, but it is also D-Day for owners of flood-damaged homes to stop the city from possibly declaring eminent domain on their damaged property.
The Lower Ninth Ward — once home to about 20,000 of New Orleans’ citizens, mostly African American — sustained the brunt of the water damage. For the most part, the area looks the same as it did in the days following the levee break that brought high waters and destroyed homes and businesses.
The city’s measure, passed in April, gives owners of flood-damaged properties three options: to gut and board up their building; to renovate or rebuild; or to tear down, according to The Times-Picayune.
Struggling with day-to-day living in the aftermath of the hurricane, many people were unaware they must obtain permits before Aug. 29.
In the middle of the many issues plaguing New Orleans the AmeriCorps has been the silver lining in an otherwise gray sky. This organization has sent more that 1.1 million volunteers to aid in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Most of the volunteers are under the age of 21 but dedicated to restoring the city. People in the N.O. feel that AmeriCorps has brought a resurgence of hope and compassion to their communities. If you are interested in helping rebuild New Orleans visit http://www.americorps.org/ for more information.
While it is impossible for me to document all the concerns, problems and issues New Orleans residence face on a daily basis, I do ask that you do not forget them and their plight. This could happen in any state that sits off the ocean, so while the hurricane landed in N.O. next time it may hit New Jersey. Understand this is an issue facing the United States not just New Orleans. We are not powerless in this if you cannot donate money or actually go volunteer to rebuild New Orleans contact your congressional representatives and let them know you want more funding to go towards rebuilding New Orleans. If you do not know who your congressional representative is visit http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html