news from the land of katrina

April 28, 2008 at 5:23 am (anti-oppression, new orleans, prisons, racism)

Dear God,

What is going on in this world?  How are they ever going to be able to give this much money 35, 000, 100,000, 150, 000 dollars back to the government?  They want to take away their homes so that a corporation keeps it stock prices nice.  Nice.  I am so sad.  And how can Nagin look at the incredilbe homeless population and say that the answer is to make it illegal to sleep in public areas?  How does that solve the homeless problem?  I cant imagine how can he sleep at night?  Well, I guess he is sleeping in a house.

10. KATRINA VICTIMS MAY HAVE TO REPAY MONEY ( GULF COAST , U.S. )

By John Moreno Gonzales
The Associated Press
Sunday 30 March 2008

New Orleans – Imagine that your home was reduced to mold and wood framing by Hurricane Katrina. Desperate for money to rebuild, you engage in a frustrating bureaucratic process, and after months of living in a government-provided trailer tainted with formaldehyde you finally win a federal grant.

Then a collector calls with the staggering news that you have to pay back thousands of dollars.

Thousands of Katrina victims may be in that situation.

A private contractor under investigation for the compensation it received to run the Road Home grant program for Katrina victims says that in the rush to deliver aid to homeowners in need some people got too much. Now it wants to hire a separate company to collect millions in grant overpayments.

The contractor, ICF International of Fairfax, Va., revealed the extent of the overpayments when it issued a March 11 request for bids from companies willing to handle “approximately 1,000 to 5,000 cases that will necessitate collection effort.”

The bid invitation said: “The average amount to be collected is estimated to be approximately $35,000, but in some cases may be as high as $100,000 to $150,000.”

The biggest grant amount allowed by the Road Home program is $150,000, so ICF believes it paid some recipients the maximum when they should not have received a penny. If ICF’s highest estimate of 5,000 collection cases – overpaid by an average of $35,000 – proves to be true, that means applicants will have to pay back a total of $175 million.

One-third of qualified applicants for Road Home help had yet to receive any rebuilding check as of this past week. The program, which has come to symbolize the lurching Katrina recovery effort, is financed by $11 billion in federal funds.

ICF spokeswoman Gentry Brann said in an e-mail Friday that the overpayments are the inevitable result of the Road Home grant being recalculated to account for insurance money and government aid given to Katrina victims.

Brann said there was a sense of urgency in paying Road Home applicants, and ICF and the state knew applicants would have to return some money.

“The choice was either to process grants immediately or wait until the March 2008 deadline (for submitting Road Home applications) before disbursing any funds,” Brann said in her e-mail.

Brann pointed out that 5,000 collections cases would represent a 4-percent error rate for the Road Home that is “quite good for large federal programs.”

Frank Silvestri, co-chair of the Citizen’s Road Home Action Team, a group that formed out of frustrations with ICF, sees it far differently.

“They want people to pay for their incompetence and their mistakes. What they need to be is aggressive about finding the underpayments,” he said. “People relied, to their detriment, on their (ICFs) expertise and rebuilt their houses and now they want to squeeze this money back out of them.”

The prospect of Road Home grant collections comes less than two weeks after the Louisiana inspector general and the legislative auditor said they were investigating why former Gov. Kathleen Blanco paid ICF an extra $156 million in her waning days in office to administer the program. With the increase, ICF stands to earn $912 million to run Road Home, a contract that also sweetened its initial public stock offering, and helped it buy out four other companies. It now reaches into government contracting sectors that include national defense and the environment.

Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state body that asked for the Blanco-ICF investigations, acknowledged the collections could be painful for applicants, many of whom have used up their nest eggs to rebuild.

“The state must walk a fine line of treating homeowners who have been overpaid with fairness and compassion and ensuring that all federal funds are used for their intended purpose,” said Rainwater, an appointee of new Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Upon receiving money from Road Home, grantees sign a batch of forms, including one that says they must refund any overpayments.

Melanie Ehrlich, co-chair of Citizen’s Road Home Action Team, which has documented Road Home cases that appear littered with mistakes, said she had no confidence that ICF had correctly calculated overpayments. She charged that the company was more likely using collections as retribution against people who had appealed their award amounts in effort to get the aid they deserved.

“I think they are looking for ways to decrease awards and that’s part of dissuading people,” she said.

Brann said applicants are told an appeal could boost or diminish their award. She called Ehrlich’s charge “a totally unfounded assertion.”

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11. NEW ORLEANS HOMELESS RATE SWELLS TO 1 IN 25 ( NEW ORLEANS , LA )

By Rick Jervis, USA TODAY

NEW ORLEANS — The homeless population of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina has reached unprecedented levels for a U.S. city: one in 25 residents.

An estimated 12,000 homeless accounts for 4% of New Orleans ‘ estimated population of 302,000, according to the homeless advocacy group UNITY of Greater New Orleans. The number is nearly double the pre-Katrina homeless count, the group says.

‘ROUGH GOING’: Homeless still feeling Katrina’s wrath

The New Orleans ‘ rate is more than four times that of most U.S. cities, which have homeless populations of under 1%, said Michael Stoops, executive director of the Washington-based National Coalition for the Homeless. The cities with homeless rates closest to that of New Orleans are Atlanta (1.4%) and Washington (0.95%), he said.

A USA TODAY 2005 survey of 460 localities showed one in 400 Americans on average were homeless.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin appealed to federal lawmakers this past week to provide funds and housing vouchers to help the city’s homeless problem.

The percentage of New Orleans’ homeless is one of the highest recorded since U.S. housing officials began tracking homelessness in the mid-1980s, said Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor who has studied homeless trends for more than 20 years.

“In a modern urban U.S. city, we’ve never seen it,” he said of New Orleans ‘ homeless rate.

Many of the homeless are Katrina evacuees who returned to unaffordable rents or who slipped through the cracks of the federal system designed to provide temporary housing after the storm, said Mike Miller, UNITY’s director of supportive housing placement.

There are also out-of-state workers who came for the post-Katrina rebuilding boom but lost their jobs, and mentally ill residents in need of services and medication, he said. Many of the city’s outreach homeless centers and public mental health services have been closed since Katrina.

Nagin has pledged to move the homeless from encampments around the city to more permanent shelters. Last year, the city and humanitarian groups found shelter for nearly all of the 250 people living in an encampment across from City Hall.

Nagin has suggested reinstating a city ordinance that would make it illegal to sleep in public places. Homeless advocates say the law would just crowd the jails.

“It just shows a real disconnect” between the city and the problem, said James Perry, head of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. “The answer is not going to be jails.”

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new orleans womens health clinic

December 25, 2007 at 7:51 pm (new orleans, women of color)

As you may have heard, the New Orleans City Council approved the HUD program of demolishing the public housing in New Orleans .  Activists and community members organized to influence the vote, however they were brutally assaulted by police during the “hearing,” pepper sprayed, and tasered.  Public housing residents are predominantly women and children of color.  Denying safe housing is an act of violence and it also increases vulnerability to domestic and sexual violence, and poverty.  It’s an anti-violence issue.  It’s also a population control issue, an act of racial cleansing and reproductive violence.  Gentrification and forced displacement is happening to women of color and our communities across the U.S. and abroad. 

For more information about this struggle, see the following links:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7154954.stm
http://blog.nola.com/tpvideo/2007/12/housing_debate_turns_violent_i_1.html

Below is an appeal letter for the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic, a project of INCITE! New Orleans .  Please consider supporting this critical project as one way to build the capacity of women of color-led movements for peace and safety.

– INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence

**************

December 2007

“Moving from the margins to the center is vital for the health and well being of women of color and poor women.  To do so, we must address the control and exploitation of our bodies and the regulation of our reproduction.  We must center our needs and experiences by designing a table without restrictions or exploitation, dictating who can sit where and when….creating a location which we feel is ours to sit at and be heard…The New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic is that table.”

-Shana griffin

 

Dear Supporters of the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic:

Even before Hurricane Katrina, women of color and low income women in New Orleans lacked access to basic health care.  Today, twenty-eight months after the storm, the limited health care resources that existed before the storm for low income and uninsured individuals have yet to be replaced, despite repeated commitments by public officials to create a “better system.”  In reality, this “better system” includes plans to shift from public services to subsidized private health insurance, leaving over 60 percent of Louisiana ’s most vulnerable residents without health insurance or a safety net. 

Combined with the loss of needed public resources and the continuation of economic isolation, gender inequality, environmental hazards, limited housing affordability, and racial discrimination, this lack of services and access to safe, affordable preventative care is equal to a public health disaster that directly impacts women of color and low-income women – particularly those who are young, uninsured, immigrant, elders, head of households, HIV/AIDS positive, homeless, sex workers, queer, disabled/differently-abled, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, and living in public housing – as they face increased barriers to health care.  

The need to organize to address this public health crisis in New Orleans is clear, but the specific needs of women and the issues of sexual and reproductive oppression have not been prioritized in the rebuilding of the city.   The manifestations of ill-health, lack of preventative care, inadequate medical resources, and the absence of a comprehensive health policy paint an unpromising picture as the voices of low income and uninsured women of color are largely silenced.    Despite this harsh reality, the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic (NOWHC), a women of color-led project, has become a CRITICAL resource with vast potential for comprehensive health education and grassroots organizing activities.   

The mission of the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic is to equip marginalized and underserved women with the means to control and care for their own bodies, sexuality, and reproduction through a holistic, community-centered well women approach to health care which integrates sexual health and reproductive justice.  Through the organizing and health advocacy work of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic was conceived to combine health services with a political analysis of the oppression that prevents low income, uninsured, immigrant, disabled/differently-abled, formerly incarcerated, and LBTQ women of color from receiving comprehensive health care. 

NOWHC not only provides health care services, but also addresses the social invisibility of low-income women of color that allows their needs to be chronically ignored and unmet.  As corporate healthcare programs attempt to fill the gaps in health care existing for low-income women in New Orleans , NOWHC stands out as a clinic that is grassroots in origin and support, and that incorporates an analysis of the root causes of the current health care crisis into the services it provides.  

Since the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic opened in May of this year, the demand for our services has steadily increased month by month. We currently provide a range of gynecological care and preliminary obstetrical visits including pregnancy testing and counseling; pap smears; pelvic exams; diagnosis and treatment of irregular menstruation, vaginal, urinary tract, and sexually transmitted infections; comprehensive sex education and access to safe and effective contraceptives; and prenatal care and education.  The low cost sliding fee scale rates of the Clinic are possible due to the support we’ve received this year, most of which has come from individuals like you.

Most recently, we established a Women’s Healthcare Fund, designed to ensure that uninsured women who cannot afford the cost of care or medications can receive care at NOWHC.  In the coming year, NOWHC plans to begin providing midwifery care, expand our services to gender variant people, conduct educational workshops at the Clinic space and in community settings throughout the city, and engage in base building activities to build support and awareness of the Clinic locally and nationally. 

At NOWHC, we are working to build the “table,” as we continue to assist women access safe, affordable, and quality health services and resources they need to take care of their over health, bodies, sexuality, and reproductive.   To continue this, we are asking you to support the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic in the following ways:

  • Make a financial contribution to the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic.  We rely primarily on donations from individuals such as you to provide sliding scale medical services to local women, and organize to build our long-term capacity. Donations help NOWHC to pay living wage salaries, rent and maintain our space, and cover the cost of laboratory services for uninsured women.   A financial contribution of $50 will provide an annual exam for a woman who otherwise could not afford one, through our Women’s Health Care Fund.  Hosting a benefit house party will raise enough for a supplies order or a piece of medical equipment, as well as spread the word about NOWHC.  In addition to financial donations, we are also accepting gift cards from Office Depot, and prepaid medical supply orders through PSS Medical Supplies.  Financial contributions should be made out to our fiscal sponsor: Women With A Vision, with NOWHC listed in the memo line of checks.   Checks and gift cards should be mailed to:
    New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic
    1406 Esplanade Ave.
    New Orleans , LA 70116
  • Spread the word about the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic. Publicity in local, national, and international press helps NOWHC spread the word about our services, connects us with people engaged in similar work, provides publicity, and generates support.  But, it’s something we often don’t have time to coordinate ourselves. If you have an idea for an article, please contact us at 504.524.8255 or at nowhc_info@yahoo.com for an interview and press points. Alternately, reach people directly by spreading the word about NOWHC to five potential donors. Your direct appeal saves us time and administrative costs!
     
  • Donate needed supplies to the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic. The supplies that NOWHC uses daily really add up.   Additionally, there are several pieces of medical equipment that we still need. If you would like to sponsor a supply order, or have supplies or equipment to donate, please contact Cassandra Burrows at nowhc_info@yahoo.com to determine if NOWHC can use them, or to get a list of needed supplies.  Please don’t send unsolicited material.

The New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic warmly thanks our network of donors and volunteers for your continued generous support. You are needed now more than ever. Our ability to provide needed services, maintain autonomy, and participate in grassroots organizing is made possible through the support of individuals and organizations in our community and nationwide.

Sincerely,

Shana M. griffin,                                     Isabel Barrios                            Mayaba Liebenthal
Interim Director                                      Board Member                           Board Member

************************

 

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
PO Box 226
Redmond , WA 98073
phone: 484-932-3166
incite_national@yahoo.com
www.incite-national.org

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and their communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing.

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myths and rebuttals about new orleans public housing

September 27, 2006 at 8:05 pm (anti-classism, anti-racism, new orleans)

i adore clear thinking.

gbitch 

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