HOUSTON GRUMBLES AS EVACUEES STAY PUT
August 21, 2006
Almost a year after Hurricane Katrina caused the country's largest mass migration since the Dust Bowl, as many as 150,000 evacuees still live in Houston, and increasingly, many are indicating that they no longer plan to go home.
To many Houstonians, that's overstaying the welcome:
- Houston's homicide rate has shot up 18 percent since the storm and police statistics show that one in every five homicides in the city involves a Katrina evacuee as suspect, victim or both.
- More than 30,000 evacuee families in Houston still live in government-subsidized housing and a Zogby International survey sponsored by the city found that three-fourths of the adults receiving housing help were not working, raising questions about how they will survive when federal aid runs out.
The challenges facing Houston as Katrina's August 29 anniversary draws near illustrate the lasting imprint that the storm left throughout the South. Estimates vary, but as many as half a million people remain scattered far from their former homes in Mississippi and Louisiana:
- A Gallup Organization survey sponsored by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, due to be released soon, found that 251,000 evacuees still live in the state.
- Of adults, 59 percent were unemployed and 54 percent were still receiving housing subsidies.
- Some 81 percent were African American and 61 percent of the households had earned less than $20,000 a year before Katrina.
Texas officials estimated that the state had housed as many as 400,000 evacuees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which lashed the Gulf Coast on Sept. 24.
The federal government is reimbursing much of the cost Texas is incurring and last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would provide an additional $429 million in emergency funding.
Source: Miguel Bustillo, "Houston Grumbles as Evacuees Stay Put; Many Katrina victims aren't leaving their new city, but the costs and crime anger residents," Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2006.
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