Hurricane Katrina survivors at Safe Harbor Landing in the City of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, are facing eviction. (Above is a nine-year old's drawing of her family's furniture on the lawn after a Safe Harbor put-out.) The homes in which these survivors currently live were developed entirely with federal funds, and the survivors gave up homes they owned based, in part, on promises that they would eventually rent-to-own their new homes in Safe Harbor. Local authorities, however, after diverting funds illegally—their criminal activity and subsequent proesecutions are well documented—began rent gouging the residents and breaking promises. If this continues, the city will transform disaster relief to disaster capitalism at its worst- pushing people out of houses that finally began to feel like homes to make way for corporate and monied interests.
Safe Harbor residents are fighting back by organizing, litigating, and claiming their human right to disaster relief and housing. Join them, the Alabama Fisheries Cooperative (which is helping them organize), and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, by signing this petition demanding that the City stop the evictions, and consider turning Safe Harbor over to its residents in the form of a housing co-operative and/or community land trust that will ensure democracy, security of tenure, perpetual affordability, and universal access for those who can’t compete with corporate forces.
We ask HUD and FEMA to immediately intervene to prevent the eviction of Hurricane Katrina survivors at Safe Harbor Landing in the City of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The homes in which these survivors live were developed entirely with federal funds, and the survivors gave up homes they owned based, in part, on promises that they would eventually rent-to-own their new homes in Safe Harbor. The cause of the eviction stems from local authorities diverting funds illegally – their criminal activity and subsequent prosecutions are well documented – and rent gouging the residents to compensate for their malfeasance. HUD and FEMA are the public stewards of the federal relief money that created Safe Harbor, and have continuing moral and legal obligations to ensure that post-disaster relief is administered in a manner accountable to the survivors and the taxpayers.
We ask you to recognize the human rights obligations of disaster relief and housing at stake in Safe Harbor and require the City to 1) stop the evictions; 2) make public all financial records relative to Safe Harbor; and 3) explore with the residents a new structure, such as a housing co-operative and/or land trust that will allow them to save their homes, control their future, and ensure Safe Harbor remains affordable to those who need it most.