Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Reaching breaking point of Katrina evacs in Houston?

Nation: Driving to work scanning the radio I hit the commentary segment of the Tom Joyner show and listened to them carry on about Spike Lee's new documentary. In the middle was this plea from the woman on the show for Houston people to just stay calm with the evacuees which I thought was odd. I hadn't seen a new story about the tension between the groups in a couple of months till I got home and caught this from the LATIMES.

HOUSTON — Almost a year after Hurricane Katrina caused the country's largest mass migration since the Dust Bowl, as many as 150,000 evacuees still live in this city, and increasingly many are indicating that they no longer plan to go home. To many Houstonians, that's overstaying the welcome. Houston's homicide rate has shot up 18% since the storm, and police statistics show that one in every five homicides in the city involves a Katrina evacuee as suspect, victim or both. More than 30,000 evacuee families in Houston still live in government-subsidized housing, and a Zogby International survey sponsored by the city found that three-fourths of the adults receiving housing help were not working, raising questions about how they will survive when federal aid runs out. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Houston Mayor Bill White opened their doors to neighbors needing shelter in the nightmarish aftermath of the storm that devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. But privately, Texas leaders quickly began to fret that the bedraggled masses that accepted their invitation were overwhelming the state. In December, White declared that "Houston is full" after more than 250,000 evacuees, including hundreds of families rescued from the fetid Louisiana Superdome, filled the city's housing to the brim. White and other civic leaders remain committed to helping hurricane victims rebuild their lives, and become Texans if they choose. But in the crowded, apartment-lined neighborhoods here where most evacuees wound up, the famous Texas hospitality is wearing thin. Many residents are fed up with rising crime, and some are upset that evacuees could end up being a financial drain on the city. "It's time for them to go home," said Victoria Palacios, the manager of an EZ Loan store in southwest Houston that has been held up four times in the last year, crimes she is convinced evacuees committed because of the distinct accents of the robbers. "Ever since they came here, we've been getting robbed."
Read the whole thing and also this article from Star Telegram.
A jump in homicides All over Houston, the impact of the evacuees on the crime rate remains a hot topic. Overall crime hasn't climbed significantly but homicides have jumped dramatically. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 14, 56 of Houston's 252 homicides -- more than 1 in 5 -- involved either a suspect or victim from New Orleans. "If they were warring in New Orleans, suddenly they were warring in Houston," Houston police spokesman Alvin Wright said. "The only difference was now you were getting killed in Houston." The police have saturated the hard-hit Fondren district in southwest Houston with overtime officers to patrol the dozens of apartments filled with evacuees. They also said they'd learned that criminals were often committing crimes in Houston then fleeing to New Orleans. Like everyone else, police worry about what will happen if evacuees eventually get evicted. "There was one guy from New Orleans who warned us it could get pretty ugly when their housing assistance runs out," Houston patrol officer C.B. Nickerson said. "He told us all hell is going to break loose."
I said it before and got some caustic emails, but I am glad I am not living in a situation like Houston, glad Florida wasn't stupid enough to pull a Texas on this because I figured this would happen. Don't think this is a color deal, this is about the perceived character of the population from New Orleans, its the reason why the rest of LA is doing everything it can not to absorb back that population. I am all about setting up programs that will give people the opportunity to make their lives better because there are only two types of people in this world, those who will and those who won't. Houston seems to have been stuck with the latter.

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