Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused one of the most devastating tragedies in U.S. history, damaging thousands of communities and lives among the Gulf Coast region. Although years have passed since this tragedy, the effects of the disaster are still felt today. Now, especially since the region has been struck again by another catastrophe, we need to ensure that the needs of the region are met and individual lives are protected.
A group of Gulf Coast residents gathered in 2006 and formulated the following list of their rights:
NETWORK recognizes that “general welfare” is one purpose of the federal government. A moral vision of society must be based on the dignity of all human life – with particular concern for the dignity of those who are most vulnerable.
Dignity and welfare require that all persons have a secure place to live and adequate healthcare. Therefore, NETWORK supports legislation that ensures affordable housing and healthcare for all those affected by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
NETWORK encourages supporting legislation that requires departments and governmental organizations to develop a disaster housing strategy, such as the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006.
NETWORK also urges federal, state and local governments to allow the voices of low-income families to be a part of planning decisions for their communities.
In addition, NETWORK calls for the federal government to make sure that the money already allocated for rebuilding efforts actually makes its way into the hands of the people. Just $44 billion of the $110 billion in federal aid has been handed out thus far, an unconscionably slow response. NETWORK also recognizes that this amount is a small percentage of what is truly needed.
NETWORK supports greater investment in jobs in the Gulf Coast region that will be sufficient enough to cover the increased expense of living in the area. Rents on available apartments are roughly three times what they were before the hurricanes, limiting the number of people who are able to return.
And finally, NETWORK calls for HUD to work quickly to renovate and reopen public housing apartments in New Orleans, and to develop plans for creation of mixed-income housing opportunities.