New Orleans Residents Press Council Member for Return to Homes

On Sept. 28th over 75 displaced New Orleans residents living in Baton Rouge, LA came out to meet with New Orleans City Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis to discuss their return home.

Vanessa Johnson, an ACORN member from the heavily-flooded Lower Ninth Ward ran the meeting. It involved heated discussions over the rights of renters and others to return to their homes. Residents of the Lower Ninth Ward have been singled out as being the only residents told to stay away from their homes indefinitely,” one member said.

The residents told the councilmember that they want to go to their homes, retrieve what they can, and meet with insurance adjustors so that they can begin to rebuild. ACORN members from New Orleans who have organized in Baton Rouge say that want displaced residents scattered around the country to know that they will fight as long as it takes to ensure that everyone is allowed to return home.

Survivors are requesting that trailers be located near damaged homes to allow them to live nearby while they repair their homes. “ACORN believes that it is very important that the residents are able to determine their own community housing and future,” said an ACORN rep. Recently a group of ACORN members from the Ninth Ward were able to return to their homes.

Katrina mortgage relief has been unfairly denied to many homeowners, according to ACORN’s president. ACORN released findings on Sept. 22nd showing tens of thousands of homeowners who were displaced by Katrina are not being offered the mortgage relief that has been highly publicized in recent weeks, and as a result could face foreclosure by the end of the year. The group found that the sub prime mortgage industry offered suspended mortgage payments, late fee waivers, and suspension of credit bureau reporting for the month of September only, while the prime mortgage industry is granting these same relief measures, along with a moratorium on foreclosures for three months and in some cases for up to 12 months.

ACORN said they also found that the sub prime mortgage industry’s “inferior” relief measures will have the greatest impact on African-American communities in New Orleans. “The communities that suffered the most from Katrina and the ineffective government response are now receiving inferior and disparate treatment from our nation’s financial system,” said ACORN President Maude Hurd.

ACORN’s findings are based on a report sent to lender this week by its sister organization, ACORN Housing, which detailed lessons learned over the last two weeks in helping displaced homeowners to contact their mortgage servicers; and in a recent analysis of the 2004 Home Mortgage Displacement Data. “ACORN Housing has been working hard to help homeowners displaced by Hurricane Katrina,” said Alton Bennett, chair of ACORN Housing’s Board of Directors.

To donate to the ACORN Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund mail checks to: ACORN Institute – ACORN Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund, 739 8th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003.

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