We learn today that rental assistance has been extended for the next 18 months for the nearly 120,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees still residing in the Houston area.
...Thousands of families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita will receive housing assistance for 18 additional months but must begin contributing to their rent next year, federal officials said Thursday.
...Evacuees, their advocates and local officials welcomed the news as a realistic acknowledgment that many families still need help but must prepare to assume more responsibility for their own lives.
Predictably, there is outrage in some quarters, as many Houstonians believe the evacuees have had enough help, an attitude fueled in part by reports that a few have committed violent crimes here. This opinion is clearly expressed in the comments submitted to the web-based article Houston Chronicle. Here's a sample:
Miniman wrote: First, they were Katrina "victims". Since this stigmatized them as being helpless, they became Katrina "evacuees". But, honestly- TWO YEARS??? And now, two more? Perhaps a more appropriate term for those who never really worked before in their lives and are now reaping a never-ending windfall might be Katrina "beneficiaries".
Whatever I guess, but I think that the fundamental issue here is that if people are mandated to evacuate a city, then some type of plan should be in place to facilitate their return. That hasn't happened and the result is that a lot of people were dropped off here and are stuck.
In that respect, the fingers should be pointing at Federal and Louisiana State and Local leaders for their failure to articulate any type of vision in regard to the rebuilding of and the repatriation of the citizenry (who want to return) of New Orleans. In any case, it's better to provide housing assistance over the short term than to put a bunch of people out on the streets with nothing. I'm sure we'd really see some angry comments then. What do you think?