Tuesday, September 06, 2005

In my Inbox today

Dear MoveOn member,

In the face of the enormous tragedy unfolding in the Southeast, the response from MoveOn members and the general public to our volunteer housing efforts has been amazing and heartwarming. Since last Thursday, offers of over 150,000 beds have been posted at hurricanehousing.org, with over 50,000 of those spots in the Southeast.

The thanks that mean the most, of course, are those of the people who have found a place to stay. Here's what Mary, one of the Katrina survivors, had to say: "I bought a condo in Biloxi just 10 days before Katrina to be closer to family after my husband's death last Jan. No motels were taking reservations so I looked on the web...that is how I came across hurricanehousing.org. What a blessing in this time of need. I'll be staying with wonderful Susan and her cats for one week."

Over 1,500 people like Mary have responded to the postings, seeking housing for 11,000 hurricane victims—even as most relief organizations are still focused primarily on saving everyone they can from the most immediate dangers. With over a million people displaced, as attention shifts to finding medium-term solutions for those crammed into churches and other makeshift shelters, we expect that the housing offered so far will be snapped up.

That's where you can help:

Offer housing: If you can shelter someone in need, even if you're nowhere near New Orleans, you may be able to make a difference for someone who has lost everything. The need is most urgent in the following locations: all of Texas and Louisiana; Washington, DC; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Memphis and Greensboro, North Carolina. But victims are also being moved to cities further afield, including Boston, Chicago, and even St. Paul, Minnesota. Post your offer of a spare room, or a bed, or even a couch here:


Donate: We've also partnered with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). As part of their effort to help victims of Katrina, they're not only working to help their (mostly low-income) members to find housing, but also to organize to see that low income neighborhoods and families get the help they need. They're strapped for funds to do this important work, and need our help. You can donate online right now at:


We're doing everything we can to get these offers into the hands of those in need. We've set up a toll-free hotline so people without internet access can call in and get help finding housing. Celebrities—-from Rosie Perez to Moby to Tim Robbins to the Beastie Boys—-are helping us publicize the website and hotline through public service announcements and other outreach.

Meanwhile, MoveOn.org Political Action is readying plans to hold the Bush Administration to account for its failures in preventing and then responding to this disaster, and make sure that Congress provides the aid that's needed.

Here are a couple more stories from the victims and their families:

I went out of town for the weekend. When I found out about the hurricane, the airline wouldn't let me return home to get my things or my dog. So I had to sit and watch in horror as the waters came in and see everything from the television. I'm distraught not only because I want my dog, I want to be home, but because I only had three classes left to graduate. [Through your site] I found a place. It was a miracle. The guy renting his apt was moving and I have 30 days to stay here and that gives me time to find a job and more permanent housing. He also hooked me up with a job. I will be attending the University of Houston Monday. I can't tell you how grateful I am to people like him and others who responded and opened their homes to me.–Dara

We moved to New Orleans in 2003 and bought a house which was under 12 feet of water following Hurricane Katrina. We evacuated safely but were at a loss as to where we would go while waiting for the endless water to drain from our city. We applied at hurricanehousing.org and got two responses within 24 hours.–Ann

Today's New York Times also includes a story of a family that was placed through hurricanehousing.org. The Mixons, from a New Orleans suburb, have plenty to worry about with the mortgages on their home and a now uninhabitable rental property adding up and the possibility that their business won't survive. The offer by Shannon O'Leary and Alex McKinney in Cummings, GA, provided not just shelter near family members, but a new friendship for both couples and their 4-year old daughters in a time of trouble. To read the article, click here:


Together we're making a difference. Thank you.

–Noah T. Winer and the whole MoveOn.org Civic Action Team
Tuesday, September 6th, 2005


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