Homeless again in New Orleans
Michelle Goldberg in Salon :
Without having a lot of money, it's almost impossible to find a place to live in New Orleans. People who came here after Hurricane Katrina, seeking rebuilding jobs, figured they could rent apartments or cheap rooms. But there's little housing to be had in Crescent City, and what is available rents for double what it cost before.
With nowhere to go, dozens of people have taken up residence in New Orleans City Park, sleeping in tents or under jury-rigged blue tarps. A group of Apache Indians from Arizona has even set up a teepee. Seeking to impose some sort of order, the city contracted with an Alabama firm called Storm Force, which has corralled people into a few manageable fields and started charging $300 a month for muddy plots big enough for four or five tents, huddled close together. Showers are available for $5.
Although famous restaurants are reopening in the French Quarter, and a trickle of tourists has returned, much of New Orleans remains apocalyptic. Streets are lined with empty, rotting houses, ugly yellow-brown stripes on the walls marking the floodwater line. A dead dog decomposes in a cage in the middle of a road in Gentilly, the devastated middle-class neighborhood that served as the setting for Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer." The trees and grass are brown and dead, killed by the flood's chemical stew. [...]
On Feb. 6, FEMA held a press conference to brief reporters on the impending end of the hotel program. Little was said that would ease Washington's fears. "We have spent more than $529 million on this emergency sheltering program," said Libby Turner, head of FEMA's transitional housing program for hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "It is not long-term housing assistance that can continue for folks, and it is not what moves them along in their recovery. So we are working to end this program. Throughout disaster history, our partners have addressed the populations that do not qualify for federal assistance, most typically state departments of social and health services and charitable partners like voluntary organizations." (more)