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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/477552-The-Painful-Truth
Rated: 13+ · Book · Personal · #1148896
If I don't write about it, I might implode.
#477552 added November 12, 2018 at 12:10am
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The Painful Truth
"There are too many obstacles in the way for New Orleanians and others across the nation who want to live the American Dream. The federal government has not been there for these people."

Said by former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards as he stood in front of a flooded out home that had not been touched since Katrina. It doesn't take the smartest person to realize that Edwards' trip to New Orleans to announce that he plans to run for President in 2008 is part of the political game. But as a Katrina survivor, I believe that he spoke the painful truth. To suddenly lose your home, to lose the job you held for years, to lose the way of life you were used to living, a way of life that kept you from having to depend on the government to help you live it... I wouldn't wish being a Katrina survivor on my worse enemy if I had one.

I keep hearing all the news reports about FEMA being defrauded of millions and even possibly a billion dollars, but few stories about how ugly many of their employees are during calls to the agency. There are few stories about all the obstacles the federal government places on Katrina survivors (note that I'm speaking for the honest lot of us that truly exist) so that we either end up being denied of housing assistance or receive asistance that helps very little. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful; I appreciate all that the government and the world has done for Katrina survivors and New Orleans. But we are still struggling, and while I can't speak too personally on the struggles of all survivors, I can tell you that almost all of the times my sister has applied for housing assistance she has ended up denied because of some mistake on the FEMA employee's part. So it becomes a nerve-wrecking game where just as it seems we've gotten one foot forward, FEMA has helped to shove us two feet backward.

Today, after having to wait for a decision for almost two months, my sister was denied housing assistance because a FEMA employee claimed that my sister works part-time. My sister not only works full-time as a preschool teacher, but has managed to continue working to earn her Bachelor's in Education. So because of the FEMA employee's mistake she has to appeal the decision. We're forced to wait, but bill collectors and landlords are not obligated to wait. And now, my family and I are playing the wait-and-see game, yet again, with FEMA. We're back in the "scraping to get by" mode of living. (And just to clarify a bit, I spoke of a debit card and a bank account in my last entry, "Beware of Identity Theft!, but there is not a lot of money in the account. Which made it even sadder that someone actually tried to steal what little money that was there.)

There was another earlier entry where I stated that it would probably take my family and I about a couple of years to completely recover from the financial devastation caused by Katrina and the levee breaks, but sometimes I'm not so sure we'll recover that soon. There's just a lot of bureaucracy and too many obstacles more often than not. For example, one requirement of FEMA's housing assistance program is that an applicant has to submit what is called "a housing search" each time an applicant applies for assistance. The purpose of such a search is to find cheaper housing so that the federal government has to pay less money to help Katrina survivors maintain roofs over their heads after the federal government has played a part in destroying thousands of homes in the first place (i.e., the levee breaches). Given what has happened in New Orleans, someone would be lucky, still, to find an available house or apartment, and then to find a low-rent home or apartment! Low-rent places are pretty much non-existant, right now, in New Orleans. But rather than understand that applicants won't find a house or apartment for less than about $795 a month, FEMA keeps the idiotic "housing search" requirement intact. It saddens me and leaves me disheartened by the U. S. government because it seems that FEMA is out to do in the honest people while failing to stop the fraud that is supposedly plaguing the agency. I realize the need for guidelines, but when those guidelines fail the people who are trying to do the right things, the people who are honestly trying to piece their lives back together, then something has to change. A lot has been done to help New Orleans and Katrina survivors, but I also want the world to know that there are many walls we continue to face when it comes to the federal government.

While my family is back in our "struggling to pay the rent and the utilities" mode, I also realize that we're blessed to at least be able to get by. We're back home, we have a roof over our heads, and we're able to be online. We'll be okay, in the end, and we're looking ahead to continuing to move forward in 2007.

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