From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Remembering Katrina: Louisiana diocese uses hammers, advocacy to house hurricane survivors

From "Matthew Davies" <>
Date Mon, 26 Feb 2007 19:03:28 -0500

Episcopal News Service February 26, 2007

Remembering Katrina: Louisiana diocese uses hammers, advocacy to house hurricane survivors

By Jerry Hames

[ENS] At the end of another week of frustration and hostility directed at city and state governments for their inability to resolve the housing crisis since Hurricane Katrina laid waste to much of New Orleans, an Episcopal initiative to build new, affordable housing in the Central City neighborhood was celebrated with the opening of its first homes.

A street party on February 24 with a brass band, food and outdoor festivities, including speeches from black evangelical pastors and civic leaders, marked the occasion.

Neighborhood residents toured one of the three new "Jericho Road" houses after a ribbon cutting ceremony by Louisiana Bishop Charles Jenkins. The three-bedroom, two-bath modular houses, with large front porches, are 18 feet wide and 70 feet long. The $115,000 price includes carpeting, central air conditioning and appliances, including washer and dryer.

The Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative

(, incorporated less than a year ago, is a cooperative effort of the Diocese of Louisiana ( and Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) ( to build new housing in an area slow to return to normal after Hurricane Katrina flooded large sections of the city 18 months ago.

Just 48 hours before the Jericho Road celebration, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chair of the congressional subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, convened a hearing at the city's Dillard University to hear testimony from Louisiana's governor, the city's mayor, representatives of churches and public housing advocates. The congressional panel heard repeatedly that many residents are still stuck in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) housing trailers, sharing homes and apartments, or commuting from out-of-town accommodations while they wait for the state's "The Road Home" recovery program ( to hit full stride.

Mayor Ray Nagin charged that the Road Home program, in which the state is authorized to distribute federal grants to those who lost their homes in the disaster, is not working. "It is overwhelmed, understaffed and technically flawed," he said, seeking control of the program by the city.

Of 108,751 applications received by the Road Home contractor, only 782 have received final payments, the panel was told.

In stark contrast, the Episcopal diocese, although it too is hampered by government red tape, according to Jenkins, is moving forward with great strides by working ecumenically in housing initiatives and at the same time partnering with Central City black pastors to try to put an end to street violence that last week alone claimed four lives.

Full story and photographs:

-- Jerry Hames is editor of Episcopal Life.

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