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Gulf Coast Advocates Testify on Housing Assistance in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

March 18, 2009
March 18, 2009
Contact: Taylor Materio 202-662-1530 x227

Gulf Coast Advocates Testify on Housing Assistance in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita


WASHINGTON, DC – Housing experts including NLIHC President Sheila Crowley testified before a Senate Subcommittee today on the continuing problems facing Gulf Coast residents and communities. 


The hearing, titled “A New Way Home: Findings from the Disaster Recovery Subcommittee Special Report and Working with the New Administration on a Way Forward,” focused on a recently issued report by the Senate Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery that details housing assistance in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and provides recommendations for responding to future disasters.


Excerpts from the testimonies include:


Sheila Crowley, President, National Low Income Housing Coalition, on the government response:

“The people who received the shoddiest treatment from the government were by-and-large poor, aged, disabled and/or black. The narrative of the destruction of their homes and their neighborhoods and the disruption of family and community life will be repeated by the families of those who were displaced and disadvantaged for years to come. Although the storms may not have discriminated in who was attacked, the government response certainly has.”


Krystal Williams, Executive Director, Louisiana Housing Alliance, on the implementation of assistance:

“The responsibility of program implementation of federal funds fell heavily upon state and local government agencies that were beyond the capability to respond effectively.  They lacked the capacity for case management to implement programs and administer assistance. This subcommittee report states that flawed FEMA public assistance programs blocked state and local governments from restoring public services needed for housing recovery.”


Karen Paup, Co-Director, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, on the report’s findings and lessons learned:

“The findings and recommendations presented in the report would be uniformly embraced by the state and local leaders, community organizations, legal advocates for the poor, social service organizations and hurricane survivors with whom I have worked over the years. Each of the three successive hurricanes to strike Texas since Hurricane Katrina have tragically demonstrated that few lessons have been learned or applied to remediate the deficiencies in federal disaster housing assistance.”


Reilly Morse, Senior Attorney, Mississippi Center for Justice, on the need for a national post-disaster housing plan:

“It is vital that a properly funded and operational catastrophic housing plan with clear guidance on the roles, programs and procedures is essential for the federal government to change from what this report recounts into a more effective and, in the long term, less costly endeavor in order to prevent the disaster of Katrina from occurring on this scale again.”


The subcommittee report, “Far From Home: Deficiencies in Federal Disaster Housing Assistance After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Recommendations for Improvement,” was released on February 27 by subcommittee chair Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who has been a staunch advocate for recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast.


Recommendations in the report that are supported by advocates include the establishment of an Office of Gulf Coast Recovery in the White House as a cabinet position, and the appointment of a Gulf Coast Recovery Advisor who will report directly to the President. The office should be assisted by a Gulf Coast Recovery Council composed of people affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005 and 2008, and who will serve in a voluntary capacity.


A copy of the full report can be found here:


Testimonies can be found at:

Sheila Crowley:

Krystal Williams:

Karen Paup:

Reilly Morse:






National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)

727 15th Street NW
, 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005
202/662-1530; Fax 202/393-1973;;
©2009 National Low Income Housing Coalition.


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