Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bricks in the sticks

In Punta Gorda, Fla. ravaged by Hurricane Charlie last year, we can see the future of the Katrina survivors not wealthy enough to afford their rebuilt homes who want to try and stay.

It is the desperation of the housing projects transferred to trailer parks. Perhaps they can give the new ones in Louisiana colorful local names. Like Calliope, St. Bernard, Fafitte, St. Thomas, Desire.

FEMA's City of Anxiety in Florida

"FEMA City is now a socioeconomic time bomb just waiting to blow up," said Bob Hebert, director of recovery for Charlotte County, where most FEMA City residents used to live. "You throw together all these very different people under already tremendous stress, and bad things will happen. And this is the really difficult part: In our county, there's no other place for many of them to go."

...

Most troubling, they said, is that while the badly damaged town of Punta Gorda is beginning to rebuild and even substantially upgrade one year after the storm, many of the area's most vulnerable people are being left badly behind.

The hurricane began that slide, destroying hundreds of modest homes and apartments along both sides of the Peace River as it enters Charlotte Harbor, and almost all of Punta Gorda's public housing. Then as the apartments were slowly restored -- a process made more costly and time-consuming because of a shortage of contractors and workers -- landlords found that they could substantially increase their rents in the very tight market.

As a result, the low-income working people most likely to have been displaced by the hurricane are now most likely to be displaced by the recovery, too.

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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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