Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who chairs the U.S. House subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, has scheduled a special hearing Friday in an attempt to intervene in the cases of as many as 18,0000 families affected by Hurricane Katrina, who may be put out of transitional housing.
“The situation we now face was both predictable and predicted,” said Norton. “I have long expressed concern that those left in emergency housing would be the most vulnerable members of society, who may have had prior difficulties that have been exacerbated by the disaster. These residents cannot simply be turned out of Federal Emergency Management Administration housing. We must help them.”
Norton, in a statement released Thursday, said she expected to hear conflicting testimony Friday, with federal and state officials testifying that there has been much improvement in the Gulf generally and Louisiana particularly since the chaos and bureaucratic red tape cited in the immediate years following the 2005 storm that leveled parts of the Gulf Coast and left about 80 percent of the city of New Orleans inundated when levees failed to hold back the waters. Major federal assistance did not arrive until days after the storm, while thousands were left homeless, forced to relocate to other states, sometimes separated from loved ones in the ensuing chaos. Many who have tried to return home and rebuild have been overwhelmed with rules, regulations and temporary housing, primarily in trailers, some of which turned out to expose residents to health hazards.
“However, other testimony and recent disturbing media reports indicate that there are families without a long-term housing solution facing eviction from emergency housing. In the hearing, we hope to ascertain whether these are isolated cases that may be symptomatic of broader issues still outstanding after the disaster,” Norton said in Thursday’s statement.