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In the five years since Hurricane Katrina, FEMA trailers have been a fixture of the New Orleans landscape—but by the start of next year, the city wants the last ones gone. It calls the 221 remaining trailers an eyesore, and says residents will have to pay fines—as much as $500 a day—if they don't move out. But leaving could be tough for those who have come to call the trailers home, the AP reports.
The New Orleans fire and the conditions of youth in America
Five young men and three young women perished in a fire in an abandoned warehouse early Tuesday morning in New Orleans after lighting a fire to keep warm in the freezing temperatures. Flames engulfed the structure. Before firefighters could extinguish the blaze they were all dead, their bodies burned beyond recognition.
“They were all amazing, beautiful, accomplished people,” Audrey Bean, 19, told the local Times-Picayune. Her friend, Gwendolyn Faye, 19, said the group had turned the warehouse—which had no utilities—into a home, with beds and cooking facilities. Rachel Park, 27, said those who died were artists, welders, musicians; some had plans to open a bicycle collective.
The deadly blaze—the worst in New Orleans in almost four decades—was one of six such fires across the metropolitan area that night. It serves as a grim exposure of the worsening plight of the homeless, and of the desperate conditions facing young people in particular.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced that the federal government’s second allotment of recovery assistance to assist the state in building back from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike totals $620 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.
HUD already approved Louisiana’s first action plan for using these funds, giving the state the ability to draw down administrative and other funds. The approved plan is as follows:
* State-level set aside: $197.5 million
o Agriculture -- $57.8 million
o Coastal Restoration -- $27.4 million
o Fisheries -- $27.4 million
o Affordable Rental Housing -- $84.9 million
* Parish-level allocations for housing, infrastructure and economic development: $565.5 million
* Local and State Administrative costs: $40 million
Five years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 200,000 Louisiana homes, the state program established to help families rebuild still hasn’t paid out more than three-quarters of a billion dollars and has come under fire from a federal judge for discriminating against black homeowners.
The Road Home program, which state officials developed in July 2006 to funnel grants of up to $150,000 to Louisianans whose homes were destroyed or damaged by huricanes Katrina and Rita in August and September 2005, has disbursed about $8.6 billion to about 127,000 families.
But officials of the Louisiana Office of Community Development acknowledged this week that more than $777 million remained in the fund as the fifth anniversaries of the devastating storms approach. That money should be going in direct payouts to about 3,000 eligible families and to help cover other recovery costs.
The unallocated Road Home funds have sat around for so long that they’ve outlived the state agency that initially ran the program. Road Home is on its second parent after the Community Development Office’s Disaster Recovery Unit assumed oversight when the Louisiana Recovery Authority — which oversaw rebuilding from the hurricanes — went out of business at the end of June, as planned by legislators in the wake of the storms.
“We’re sitting on almost $800 million in homeowner money that’s not been expended. Is that right?” state Rep. Neil Abramson, a Democrat from New Orleans, disbelievingly asked at a meeting Tuesday night of the Legislature’s Hurricane Recovery Committee, which was packed with angry residents.
New Orleans moves to get rid of last FEMA trailers
...According to FEMA, New Orleans got 23,314 trailers.
The few remaining are on the hit list of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who's vowed to rid New Orleans of blight by eliminating 10,000 broken-down properties over the next three years.
"This administration wants to turn a page on Katrina," said Gary Clark, a Dillard University political science professor. "The FEMA trailer has become an icon of Katrina."
But some advocates fear Landrieu's zeal to eliminate blight will hurt poor people struggling to find their way in New Orleans more than five years after Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city in August 2005.
"The blight eradication program, if not done correctly, can become a poor-person eradication program," said Lance Hill, the executive director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research, a race relations center based at Tulane University...