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Monday, June 05, 2006

COLOR OF CHANGE Stays After FEMA's Failures

 
6/5/2006 - An email from Color of Change....Keep up the good and tireless work!!!!
Last week, 55,000 of Katrina's most vulnerable survivors began losing housing assistance.
But many of those being cut off should be eligible for continued help under FEMA's own guidelines.

FEMA has acknowledged the problem, but refuses to fix it.

It's completely unacceptable.

Join us in demanding FEMA do its job, now:

Dear ColorOfChange.org member,
FEMA is once again failing those it's supposed to serve. This time, its incompetence threatens to create a second round of homelessness for Katrina evacuees.

Last month FEMA started denying long-term housing assistance to evacuees, including those who by its own standards should have been found eligible.[1] After Houston's mayor provided evidence of the problem, FEMA acknowledged the issue but made no guarantee it would fix it, or that those unfairly denied would have a chance to qualify for long-term assistance.[2]

Katrina survivors shouldn't bear the burden of FEMA's mismanagement, but that's exactly what's happening, and it will continue to happen, unless FEMA changes course.

Join us in demanding that FEMA stop dropping evacuees from housing assistance until it can guarantee an effective process for determining eligibility, and then ask others you know to do the same. It takes only a moment:

COLOR OF CHANGE

Since Katrina, many of those who were receiving housing assistance from FEMA have gotten back on their feet, and no longer need help. But others are still struggling. The Stafford Act authorizes up to 18 months of housing assistance for survivors of a natural disaster, but FEMA is about to cut off some of the most vulnerable evacuees long before they've had a proper chance to gain some stability.

In Houston, 1 in 4 households -- representing 20,000 evacuees -- were declared ineligible for long-term housing assistance. Mayor Bill White saw a crisis looming in his city, and decided to investigate FEMA's procedures for determining eligibility. What he found shocked him – many evacuees were being determined ineligible because of missing information in their files, a misunderstanding of the facts about their case, or absurd technicalities in FEMA's eligibility rules.

With this information, Mayor White requested that benefits not be terminated for any evacuee seeking long-term assistance until "some qualified caseworker has reviewed all aspects of the reason of termination and the recommendation of ineligibility has been made on substantive grounds." FEMA agreed to review their process for determining eligibility and extended the timeline for short-term benefits, but the agency refused to comply with the obvious request that evacuees not be cut-off from benefits until things were fixed. In addition, FEMA's extension only applies to evacuees in Houston and the 10 other cities in Texas whose mayors stepped up and asked for assistance.[3] It leaves evacuees in other states out in the cold, with no consideration.

FEMA shouldn't cut off housing assistance to evacuees in any city until it understands and fixes its own problems. To allow FEMA's missteps to become an additional burden for those most in need is simply wrong, and it's completely preventable.

You can help us keep FEMA's negligence and incompetence from striking another blow to those still recovering from Katrina. Please join us now:

Color of Change

Thank You and Peace,

-- James, Van, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
June 5th, 2006


References:

1. "For Some Katrina Evacuees, Another Displacement Looms" The Washington Post, 5-30-06
http://www.colorofchange.org/ref/fema.html

2. Houston's Mayor Bill White's letter to FEMA, 4-27-06
http://www.colorofchange.org/fema/letter.pdf

3. FEMA's letter providing explanation of extension, 4-26-06
http://www.colorofchange.org/fema/extension.pdf
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