ACORN Katrina Survivors Association Will Unite Displaced Residents to Work for a Just Recovery
ACORN member Paul Fernandez hangs a 'No Bulldozing' sign in front of a home located in New Orleans' Ninth Ward.
On October 18th, ACORN announced the formation of the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association (AKSA) -- the first nationwide organization of displaced New Orleans residents and other Katrina survivors. The AKSA will unite members of our displaced communities in order to demand more effective relief efforts and a voice in the rebuilding process.
"We want to return to our homes, and take part in rebuilding our communities," says Tanya Harris, a former resident of the Lower 9th Ward and a leader of the AKSA. "Right now, too many decisions are being made without us at the table." Harris and 1,600 New Orleans residents from across the country came together to form the Survivors Association, whose launch was announced today in a national phone-in press conference.
The ACORN Katrina Survivor Association plans to reach a total of 100,000 members in the next year. In the coming months,The AKSA will use public pressure, direct action, and dialogue with elected officials to win a platform that includes:
- Respect and a voice -- Our voices need to be at the center of developing and implementing relief and reconstruction programs.
- Right of return - The people of New Orleans will not be kept out by deliberate attempts to change the make-up of the city, or by neglect, which gives the richer and more powerful first access to choices and resources.
- The means to take care of ourselves and our families - Survivors need help with housing, healthcare, income from unemployment, and assistance for those who've helped us.
- Rebuilding the right way - Reconstruction should include good and affordable housing, living wage jobs, and good schools for our children.
- Recovering together - The Hurricane should not be used as an excuse to cut health care and food assistance programs that help families across the country.
- Accountability and honesty - An independent investigation is necessary so we can understand what went wrong and how to protect ourselves in the future.
The AKSA will continue and expand the organizing that local ACORN chapters have accomplished since Katrina first hit, which has already resulted in some notable actions and victories:
- On October 7th, the Houston ACORN Hurricane Survivor Committee brought together survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their host families to confront Houston FEMA Director Tom Costello about a lack of response to the needs of the survivors.
- In negotiations a week later, FEMA agreed to a number of reforms to make services more accessible, including a shuttle bus to their service center, translated materials, and extending benefits to Rita survivors.
- Displaced New Orleans ACORN members have organized in shelters in Baton Rouge and other part of Louisiana, advocating for a "right to return" to New Orleans.
- On October 15th, Louisiana ACORN members staged a caravan into the Lower 9th Ward to claim their right to return and placarded hundreds of homes with signs stating "Do Not Bulldoze."
In the coming weeks, the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association will conduct public events in Washington, D.C. and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and other cities around the country to build support for a recovery and rebuilding plan that reflects the needs and dreams of Katrina survivors. Read more at www.acorn.org/katrina.