Katrina Relief Efforts Slowing, Agencies Out of Funds
Case Managers Shuffling Papers
From: Kathleen Johnson's July 21st Blog ReliefVolunteers.com Filed 7/23/08 GCN
Editor's Note: Kathleen Johnson is a
Katrina volunteer working in Hancock County since shortly after Hurricane
Katrina. She publishes a blog of her activities and observations on her
website and for her organization "Katrina Relief."
Lets see - Red Cross is ended. We can not seem to get a straight answer on Salvation Army grants - that story changes daily with today's rendition stating that it might be till the middle of August until the round table will open up. That's right - there are no Round Tables being scheduled at the Hancock Long Term Recovery right now - there are no funds to distribute. The much touted HUD funds turned out to be 35 houses handed out with the hint there might be more - but even that story is changing with every twist and turn with one person at the top hinting that "we got it all wrong". Although the information was handed out at a normal Wednesday coordination meeting and all reporting back reported the "same" story. Gulf Coast Recovery is out of funds and relying on the HUD funds that "might" be released in September and its only initially for 35 homes.
All of this information leaking out in bits and pieces and not one complete press release from any one of the organizations in "charge". Why is that? Where is the public relations for this recovery? Why is it that the Case Managers have no "real" information to give to our thousands of clients who, by the way, are knocking at our doors and asking questions. Questions we can not answer because no one is standing up and telling a straight story - and the plain truth is that the Hancock Housing Resource Center, Hancock Counties Long Term Recovery arm, is now temporarily closed down until further notice. No money, no round tables, no funds, no nothing. Their doors may be open - but the business of business i.e. handing out recovery funds is stalled.
But the volunteers are still coming. They have no idea that we are out of funds. We didn't know this was all going to come to fruition in July. We were not forwarned or told - so we kept recruiting volunteers.
As a business plan - this is reprehensible. The public deserve better than this. The Case Managers deserve better than this. The volunteers who travel thousands upon thousands of miles deserve better than this.
And what else you ask? Well, there is a great plan from HUD whereby they will pay a mortgage for 15 years instead of rent for Section 8 eligible housing - but the program was not widely advertised and the application period ends on July 31st.
And if we sound frustrated - you can imagine what the homeowners are feeling. Again - where is the Master Plan? Where is the public relations department for recovery? Where are all these Federal dollars for housing?
And if that was not all the bad news you wanted to hear - this article out today from the Associated Press. The icing on the cake for those of us who have been struggling with a lack luster recovery plan and no Master Plan for going on three years. FEMA delivers incomplete disaster housing strategy
To top it off - the Congressional drive thru done by members of Congress today in a 60 foot tour bus. They passed thru Pearlington doing 40mph and didn't stop. In fact - security really prevented the 60 foot bus from actually going to any of the real devastated areas as the roads were too narrow. So the window tour at forty miles per hour on the developed roads where there really was recovery to be seen but not the homeless in their cars, homeless living in sheds, homeless living in gutted homes or unfinished homes, the miles of empty lots and slabs, and the half built homes now stalled due to lack of funding from the recovery process. All of this, of course, far from the "Madding Crowd", out in the back forty where you can not get a sixty foot tour bus.
Recovery is at an impasse - and no one is talking publicly. Shhhhhh..........
PS - 1.06pm: We were just advised that the Salvation Army grants will not be available until after the end of August. That has not been put in writing yet but it was the word to my Case Managers today.