New Orleans Locals Still Homeless After Katrina


A unique homelessness situation confronts post-Katrina New Orleans. A recent survey conducted by advocacy groups shows that a majority of the homeless were residents of New Orleans before the hurricane, and lost their jobs and homes as a result.

Figures cited in today's New York Times include:

  • 86 percent of homeless are from the New Orleans area.
  • 60 percent cite Hurricane Katrina as the cause of their homelessness, while 30 percent said they received assistance from FEMA at one time.
  • 80 percent have at least one physical disability, 58 percent have had some kind of addiction, 40 percent are mentally ill, and 19 percent deal with all three issues.
  • The number of homeless has doubled since Katrina, according to rough estimates.

For an more in depth look at the problem, read more.

One HIV-positive New Orleans native told the paper that he wasn't homeless until Hurricane Katrina. He receives $637 per month in disability income, not enough to pay rent. Despite a rise in need, there has been a decline in resources. Before Katrina, the city had 2,800 shelter beds, now it has 2,000. In addition, FEMA federal trailer parks that house many Hurricane Katrina victims are scheduled to close May 31.

In his new book, President Bush's former press secretary called Katrina "one of the worst disasters in our nation's history" and "one of the biggest disasters in Bush's presidency." Now more than three years later, the local community still faces the difficulty brought by lack of resources.

Do you consider New Orleans' homeless predicament a national or local problem? How can we get those more vulnerable in a crisis — such as the mentally ill, disabled, and drug addicted — back on their feet? Should Congress adopt legislation that would provide $76 million in rent subsidies and services to disabled homeless people in the city, as passed by the Senate last week?

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