07 October 2008

Ms. Foundation Announces Emergency Grants

Crisis continues on the Gulf Coast:
FEMA fails thousands again; ICE raid threatens immigrant workers and families

Today, the Ms. Foundation announced that it has made special grants to the United Houma Nation Relief Fund, the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation and the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance—all either current or past Katrina Women’s Response Fund grantees—to meet the urgent needs of women, families and communities in the Gulf Coast.

One month after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ravaged rural, low-lying coastal areas of Louisiana and forced the evacuation of New Orleans, entire communities remain in crisis. FEMA is repeating past mistakes and a severe housing emergency looms.

Throughout the bayou, homes were thrust off of their foundations and strong winds left only a few beams standing. FEMA has offered emergency housing vouchers, but for nonexistent rentals and hotel rooms already taken up by representatives of the powerful oil and gas industry.

Since Gustav, Brenda Dardar Robichaux, Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation and a recipient of the Ms. Foundation’s 2008 Women of Vision Award, has been blogging about Gustav and Ike’s devastating impact on her People—and the failure of the media or policymakers to pay attention. You can read her entries here. She also set up a relief center again, just like she did after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to offer emergency food, supplies and assistance with FEMA applications.

In New Orleans, people are still struggling to recover from unexpected costs and lost wages sustained during a city-wide evacuation. The displacement was especially burdensome for low-wage workers—most often women—who frequently lack benefits or leave policies that might serve as a buffer in times of emergency. LDRF is working to help offset their expenses and restore some sense of economic security—already fragile before the recent storms—to their lives.

In Laurel, Mississippi, just before Gustav hit Louisiana, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained nearly 600 immigrant workers in the largest workplace raid in U.S. history. Since then, families have struggled to pay rent or purchase basic necessities like medicine and food. MIRA acted quickly to protect the legal rights of the detained workers’ and their families and to establish a relief fund to meet people’s basic needs.

Sara K. Gould, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, shared this: “We are proud to support the relief efforts of our Gulf Coast grantees as they work to meet people’s immediate needs and to address new levels of devastation brought about by recent hurricanes and ongoing government failure, discrimination and neglect. We hope to continue to raise the visibility and leadership of those who are most impacted—namely, low-income women, women of color, and immigrant women—who, because of their disproportionate and direct experience with these crises, have the most just and sustainable solutions to the short- and long-term challenges their communities face.”
Photos: Gustav Damage, 9/16/08
Brenda Dardar Robichaux
Credit: United Houma Nation

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