harumph: Cartoon of a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who with the caption "Not the comfy chair!" (Green Day // Mike: WTF?)
[personal profile] harumph
There are a few things I forgot to mention yesterday that might put things in perspective in terms of the decisions the owners of the Rescue Mission have made. Their reasoning for charging people to live in the mission are as follows:

1. Because of the hurricane, most of their donor base has been displaced. Therefore, they're in need of funds. However, they don't want to apply for federal aid because then they would have to get rid of certain aspects of the way they run the shelter (i.e. making people attend a church service before being allowed to receive a meal, which is standard in Rescue Mission organizations). However, if you take a look at the city demographically, the majority of the people remaining in the city are affluent and white. While obviously these people were temporarily displaced due to the flooding, for the most part their houses were unharmed (the natural levees on Lake Pontchartrain held, the Garden District was relatively unharmed, and so the rich people were saved, lucky them) and so it seems like they might be able to find some sort of donor base in the city, even if it isn't to the extent of the pre-Katrina base. There are other ways, I'm positive.

2. The population they served pre-Katrina is gone, so they need to change with the times. The former population being drug addicts, prostitutes, and so forth, who all came to the mission to go through a year-long Christian-based rehabilitation program and try to find a job. Now they are focusing on transitional housing for people who already have full-time jobs and have no place to live. Not a worthless goal by any means, but it is NOT serving the proportion of the population that actually needs it the most. While understandably they don't have the capacity to provide a rigorous rehab program that requires psychologists and 24-hour surveillance and so forth, it doesn't mean that they should focus solely on a minute percentage of the populace. While staying in the shelter, we had to turn away people asking for food or a place to stay every day. We gave them what clothes and toiletries we could find, but unless they could pay up front (owners stated this specifically) then we had to turn them away. So I agree that the population has changed, but by providing housing to people who need to find a job and desparately want to return to the city, you would be helping so many more people. Everyone who owns a home in the 9th ward wants to come home; most of them have lived in New Orleans for generations. What's wrong with providing them with a place to live and the ability to find a job so they can move back and rebuild? Oh right, they're poor and black.

This is the main rationale for their decision to charge $150/week per resident. Now I believe that if the American population at large knew how much damage still exists in New Orleans, how many people are displaced and how many of those people want to come home, I think the mission would have no problem finding donors around the country. They would have to donate online or over the phone because the mail service is spotty at best unless you have a PO Box and mail things directly at the post office. Their cook isn't a paid employee, but rather cooks in exchange for room and board. Her husband has a similar arrangement with the mission. If they had several more people using the same arrangement, they would have a staff large enough to accomodate serving meals en masse and then actually make use of the ridiculous amount of food they took from the Food Bank.

Anyway, I just thought I should state that the owners of the Mission did have reasons for what they did... it's just that, to my mind, they weren't as legitimate as I think necessary. Or at least the way they've acted upon them isn't.



ETA: FUCK YES! This is definitely a step in the right direction!
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harumph: Cartoon of a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who with the caption "Not the comfy chair!" (Default)
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