OPINION: Green Party: Katrina survivors have a right to return home

New Orleans development should ensure Katrina survivors stable homes, not displacement, say Greens.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Green Party leaders joined the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign and other supporters of Katrina survivors in urging FEMA to provide viable and affordable transitional and long-term housing for people displaced by last year's hurricanes.

"FEMA has been stringing along Gulf Coast evacuees, holding the threat of homelessness over their heads," said Steve Kramer, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "We're glad that, under public pressure, FEMA has extended deadlines for the temporary provision of shelter in hotels and trailers, but what evacuees want now is to regain stability and secure housing, and to reunite with their families and communities in New Orleans and other towns in the Gulf Coast from which they were forced to flee."

Many Greens support H.R. 4197, "The Hurricane Reclamation, Recovery, Reconstruction and Relief" Act for comprehensive assistance to enable all Katrina survivors to return and rebuild their communities. The bill was introduced by all 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"Katrina survivors need protection from price-gouging when they return to rented houses and apartments, and they need a guarantee that post-hurricane development will not drive them out of their homes," said Sundiata Tellem, Co-Chair of the Black Caucus of the Green Party of the United States. "We're especially alarmed at growing indications that New Orleans' African American population—the major source of the New Orleans' unique traditions and culture—is being excluded from plans to restore the city. And last I'd checked, many of the African- American populations of Georgia, Missisippi, and Alabama were sent to 20 states from which they surely won't have to pay to get back home."

Mayor C. Ray Nagin's 'Bring New Orleans Back' commission proposes that residents of districts most heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina will have four months to demonstrate strong support for rebuilding their neighborhoods, or be forced to sell to the government.

"Mayor Nagin's scheme would banish low-income and black residents, and turn New Orleans into a feeding trough for wealthy and chiefly white development interests," said Leenie Halbert, Green Party activist and former resident of New Orleans.

On March 14, 2006, a protest organized by the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign against Katrina evictions will take place in Washington, D.C., beginning with a press conference at 1:00 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building (Room #2237) and continuing with a Mardi Gras Style March for Justice at 2:00 p.m. beginning at the Capitol South Metro Station and continuing to the White House, where a rally will take place at 3:00 p.m.

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