Washington, D.C., March 16, 2006 -- The National Council of Churches' Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast said it was "deeply troubled" by the Federal Emergency Management Administration's decision to end temporary housing for hurricane victims.
In a statement released today, the Special Commission said:
We are deeply troubled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to end funding for temporary housing for Hurricane Katrina evacuees as of yesterday. This premature and unnecessary action adds insult to injury and will cause further harm to those who have already lost everything.
Instead of acting responsibly and extending the deadline for temporary housing until real and affordable transitional and permanent housing is available; FEMA has decided to evict hurricane victims and allow chaos to reign supreme as thousands struggle to survive and rebuild their lives. This action is not only a cruel and insensitive bureaucratic mistake. It is completely out of step with our nation's deepest ethical and moral values.
We pose the same question today that we did in a letter earlier this week to Michael Chertoff (pictured), director of the Department of Homeland Security: Where are these families to go?
Churches and church families in Louisiana, Mississippi and across this nation have gladly taken in and supported hurricane survivors for months. However, these volunteers simply do not have the additional capacity to house the thousands that will be put out on the streets because of FEMA's decision. We will continue to do all that we can but we call on President Bush, the Department of Homeland Security and Members of Congress to also do their part to uphold the ideals of our nation as well as their moral obligation to the citizens of this country. Despite media references to those impacted by the storm as "refugees," these are not refugees from another land but citizens of the United States of America!
FEMA along with other local, state and federal agencies have repeatedly asked hurricane evacuees and millions of shocked citizens across the nation to understand their slow and inept response to this historic disaster. Now it's FEMA's turn to show it understands the difficult situation in which most evacuees have found themselves:
Six months after the storm thousands of people are still in limbo and do not even know the full extent of the options available to them. Efforts to rebuild are moving at a snail's pace and debris is still littered for miles across the areas hardest hit.
This is not the time to evict evacuees from the places that have provided shelter for them since the storms hit. This is the time to find creative ways to use our collective resources to help those most in need.