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Below is a draft sign-on letter to support using the Jobs Bill to redirect a portion of unused KatrinaRita funds for Civic Works-like projects (see request memo at: https://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5107/images/GCCWCReallocationMemo.pdf) across the disaster region.

This could open up $2.8 billion in funds for non-profits and local governments to create jobs restoring wetlands, rebuilding affordable housing, training workers, building capacity of non-profits and promoting hazard mitigation and energy efficiency. The funds would target the most vulnerable communities, and promote community participation. Its similar to HR 2269 in a way, but in the current political situation it seems more plausible.

If you have any edits or additions please email jeffreyrbuchanan@gmail.com, I’d welcome the input.

The deadline for sign-ons is 2/24 at COB. If you wish to sign-on, please email me at jeffreyrbuchanan@gmail.com.

Please send this out through your networks and encourage people to sign-on. We hope to get a wide array of signers so we can take sign on letters to each of the Gulf Senators individually (Landrieu, Cochran, Shelby, etc..) and urge their support with a long list of local organizations who support.

We’ve gotten some initial positive feedback, but we need a strong showing of grassroots support to start to drive this effort.

Let me know if you have questions.

Best,

Jeffrey Buchanan

—————————————–

The Honorable Mary Landrieu
328 Hart Senate Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Landrieu:

Four years and a half after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck, the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, coastal land loss, and climate change have created a crisis across America’s Gulf Coast that demands a powerful response from our elected officials. Our federal response has yet to properly protect the well-being of America’s most vulnerable people and places through recovery policies which rebuild lives, restore the environment, mitigate future hazards, and respect human rights. Since 2005, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana have witnessed four major regional disasters- Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike- which have caused over $150 billion worth of damage, destroyed over 300,000 homes, killed more than 2,000 Americans and left tens of thousands of families still displaced and unable to return to their communities.

As we look across America’s Gulf Coast today, we see:

  • Millions of residents vulnerable to internal displacement or mass relocation due to future deadly storms, coastal land loss, and climate change;
  • Homeowners insurance costs sky-rocketing in coastal communities;
  • Homelessness and rental housing costs rising as affordable housing projects grinding to a halt with the crash of financial markets and thousands of blighted and storm-damaged properties remaining unrepaired; and
  • Too many families unable to access proper training and living wage work to pay for life’s necessities and find pathways out of poverty.

To begin to address these challenges, we urge the President to request and Congress to grant the reallocation of $2.8 billion in existing budgetary federal authority towards competitive grants partnering with local governments, non-profits, and faith-based organizations on projects creating green jobs building more resilient coastal communities. The U.S. Congress has appropriated billions of dollars in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita which have yet to reach the ground. As of June 30, 2009, almost one third of the total funds granted by the U.S. Congress to federal agencies ($39.4 billion) has yet to be spent. Of this, $19.4 billion has not even been obligated to specific projects. The attached memo outlines how a portion of these unused funds could be repurposed to allow the federal government to begin to partner with local stakeholders to meet this incredible national challenge.

Gulf Coast residents have expressed frustrations in the federal governments’ inability to address the long-term needs of people impacted, particularly among vulnerable populations, including residents with disabilities, elderly, low income, women, immigrant, and minority communities.  Recent studies show America’s Gulf Coast to be home to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country to the threat of climate change and natural disasters. The roots of this vulnerability include a combination of economic, social and environmental challenges, each of which have been inadequately addressed by federal recovery policy to date. Additionally, national economic interests along the Gulf Coast, including energy, shipping, and commercial fishing, also remain under threat without significant action to thwart coastal land loss and protect Gulf Coast ecosystems.

Faced with these inter-related challenges residents, volunteers, and social innovators from non-profit and faith-based organizations have led some of the most successful efforts for promoting recovery and resiliency. Despite developing cutting-edge models for rebuilding safer, more energy efficient homes, protecting wetlands, training workers and revitalizing communities, their efforts have often lacked in scale due to limited funding. By reallocating federal funds towards partnerships with community leaders, we could begin to address priorities including:

  • Creating jobs restoring natural flood protection, including wetlands and barrier islands;
  • Retrofitting homes to withstand flooding and winds and promoting energy efficiency to bring down energy and homeowners insurance costs for low income families;
  • Helping families immediately threatened by coastal flooding to relocate voluntarily;
  • Promoting community economic development and affordable housing, including repairing or rebuilding blighted, storm-damaged properties;
  • Creating supportive housing for the chronically homeless and residents with disabilities;
  • Training local workers for high demand, high wage skilled trades work, including cutting edge green building, coastal restoration and disaster mitigation technologies;
  • Promoting local business development in cutting-edge green industries; and
  • Helping local small businesses obtain Surety Bonds to compete for federal contracts.

We urge you to support attaching a request to reallocate these funds in either the Jobs Bill now being debated in Congress, other upcoming supplemental appropriations legislation, or the FY 11 Appropriations Process. Such a plan would allow the Administration and the U.S. Congress to fulfill their campaign promises of building stronger, safer and more equitable communities across America’s Gulf Coast without increasing the national deficit. Together, we can work to put in place policies to ensure that we rebuild more resilient and equitable neighborhoods, restore the environment, and empower our brothers and sisters to lift themselves from poverty and overcome devastation.

Sincerely,

Roberta Avila
Executive Director, Steps Coalition

Julia Beatty
Program Officer, The Twenty-First Century Foundation

Eugene Ben
Director, Benroe Housing Initiatives

Peg Case
Director, TRAC

Mona Gobert-Cravins
Assistant Administrator, 232-HELP/Louisiana 211

Mary Fontenot
Executive Director, All Congregations Together (ACT)

Sharon Gauthe
Executive Director, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)

Mary Joseph
Director, Louisiana Office
Children’s Defense Fund

Rev. Ken Booker Langston
Director, Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)

Lan Le
Executive Director, National Alliances of Vietnamese American Service

Scott Myers-Lipton, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Gulf Coast Civic Works Project

Eva Paterson
President, Equal Justice Society

Glenda Perryman
Executive Director, Immaculate Heart Community Development Corp

Marcia Peterson
Director, Desire Street Ministries/CDC 58:12 Inc.

Marie Thompson
Executive Director, Dando la Mano

Lisa Richardson, PhD
Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies (IWES)

Sandy Sorensen
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Washington Office

Bill Stallworth
Executive Director, Hope CDA: Hope Community Development Agency

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed,
National Director
Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America

Rev. Romal J. Tune
CEO, Clergy Strategic Alliances, LLC

Jay A. Wittmeyer
Executive Director, Global Mission Partnerships
Church of the Brethren

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.,
National Chair, National Congress of Black Women, Inc.

John Zippert
Director, Rural Training and Research Center
Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Dear Friends,

Today is International Human Rights Day, the fifth International Human Rights Day since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. After four years, four regional disasters (Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike) and a new President, the United States government still has not taken the necessary steps to ensure the human rights of the survivors of our nation’s disasters.

As we look across the Gulf Coast we still see:

  • Tens of thousands of Katrina survivors unable to realize their right to return home.
  • Families living in toxic FEMA trailers struggling to find resources to rebuild their homes.
  • Over 2 million residents of coastal Louisiana increasingly vulnerable to future disasters and internal displacement due to coastal land loss and climate change.
  • Homelessness and rental housing costs rising while affordable housing projects grind to a halt with the crash of financial markets;
  • Communities still without vital medical facilities.
  • Many more survivors who can’t find work at a living wage or training to finance their families’ recovery and find their way out of poverty.

But we have a chance to let the Obama Administration know that such injustices must not continue in the United States of America.

Click here to support a plan to bring human rights home.

President Barack Obama launched an effort to reconsider how our country should respond to natural and man-made disasters. The President has tasked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to lead a Long Term Disaster Recovery Working Group. But that working group hasn’t included many grassroots leaders representing low income, minority, and immigrant communities-the most vulnerable victims of the storms-in its early consultations.

A growing movement of Katrina survivors, local elected officials and community, faith-based, and human rights organizations is continuing to push the Administration and Congress to stand up for human rights and enact innovative policies to equitably restore Gulf Coast communities. But we need your help.

President Obama pledged to fix what the Bush Administration left undone after Katrina. But we need to help him make good on his promise. The Working Group is only accepting public comment until December 15th, so take action today!

Click here to send your message to the Obama Administration.

Sincerely,

Your Friends with the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign

Below is a joint letter we began and have been encouraging supporters to send to the Obama Administration’s Long Term Disaster Recovery Working Group, a group tasked with advising President Obama on the future of disaster recovery. We are urging the Working Group to support resident-led, human rights-based recovery policy modeled after HR 2269. If your organization would like to support this effort please email buchanan@rfkmemorial.org.

———————————————————————————————-

The Honorable Shaun Donovan
Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Co-Chair, Long Term Disaster Recovery Working Group
Washington, DC 20410

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Co-Chair, Long Term Disaster Recovery Working Group
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretaries Donovan and Napolitano,

This Human Rights Day we urge the Obama Administration and specifically the Inter-Agency Long Term Disaster Recovery Working Group to bring human rights home for our nation’s disaster survivors.

On this fifth Human Rights Days since Hurricane Katrina, our national response has yet to properly protect the well-being of America’s most vulnerable people and places through long-term disaster recovery policies which restore the environment, rebuild lives and respect human rights. Since 2005 Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas have witnessed four large regional disasters, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, in which the local populations have expressed frustrations and anxiety in the governments’ inability to address the needs of people impacted. The federal government has still yet to ensure meaningful participation of disaster survivors in determining how funds can be best used to meet their recovery needs.  These storms will certainly not be our last national disasters, but we must learn their lessons, so we can ensure a more comprehensive response in the future.  As we look across America’s Gulf Coast, we see:

  • Tens of thousands of displaced survivors unable to return home with dignity and safety;
  • Families living in FEMA trailers as they struggle to access resources to rebuild their homes;
  • Homelessness and rental housing costs rising while affordable housing projects grind to a halt with the crash of financial markets;
  • Over 2 million residents of coastal Louisiana increasingly vulnerable to future disasters and internal displacement or mass relocation due to coastal land loss and climate change.
  • Insufficient access to health care facilities, particularly in the areas of mental health where needs for these facilities and services have grown substantially for survivors;
  • Many more unable to access proper training and living wage work to pay for life’s necessities and find pathways out of poverty.

We must act now to put in place policies to ensure that we rebuild more resilient and equitable neighborhoods, restore the environment and empower our brothers and sisters to lift themselves from poverty and overcome devastation and discrimination.

If the U.S. hopes to serve as an example to the world, we must start by ensuring that the survivors of our nation’s largest disaster realize their fundamental rights.  For years, the U.S. has worked to implement the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in our international aid policies while not abiding by these same vigorous standards at home, and instead insisting that the federal government did not hold a primary responsibility in domestic disaster recovery.  This inconsistency has opened our nation to criticism.  In fact, one of the very first reports heard by UN Human Rights Committee after the United States became a member this year condemned the U.S. for not providing adequate and equitable assistance to Hurricane Katrina’s most vulnerable survivors.

We welcomed the initiative of this Administration to take a much needed new look at federal recovery policies.  Still we were disappointed that the Working Group did not include a significant number of voices representing residents with disabilities, elderly, low income, minority, and immigrant communities—our most vulnerable people—in its initial stakeholder meetings.  These community leaders have been on the forefront of rebuilding their neighborhoods, developing responsive local recovery plans, implementing model projects and advocating for common sense policy reform for more than four years.  Instead of being left out of the process, they ought to be seen as resources whose knowledge can be leveraged in planning policy and in the implementation of future recovery efforts to guard against future mistakes.

The Working Group can still act to protect our most vulnerable communities by supporting federal policies to ensure all people realize their right to return home with dignity and safety and to participate in their community’s recovery.

We encourage the federal government to promote innovative partnerships with local governments, faith-based and community organizations to meet these goals.  Specifically, we ask the Working Group to look to the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act as a policy embraced by a growing bi-partisan coalition of grassroots and elected leaders for how the federal government can partner with disaster survivors in empowering human rights-based recovery.

Together we can inspire community action and a renewed federal disaster partnership, beginning along America’s Gulf Coast. Such a policy can help replace a national tragedy characterized by toxic FEMA Trailers, controversial development projects and abusive contractors, with an uplifting success story exemplified by survivors realizing their rights, returning to rebuild their lives and communities and the federal government making good on its promises and responsibilities.

We urge the U.S. Administration to support national disaster recovery policy based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act to:

  • Provide targeted training and hiring of disaster survivors for jobs rebuilding their communities;
  • Equitably rebuild affordable housing and vital community infrastructure after disasters;
  • Restore environment and natural disaster mitigation, including wetlands and barrier islands;
  • Promote energy efficiency and resiliency to future disasters and climate change in recovery projects;
  • Make contracting and subcontracting opportunities accessible to local businesses; and
  • Work with community and faith-based non-profits and local governments to allow communities to participate in planning and implementing recovery projects to better target the needs and ensure the rights of vulnerable populations, especially women, residents with disabilities, elderly, low income, minority, and immigrant communities.

We can not wait for another Human Rights Day to pass without taking meaningful steps to recognize the rights of disaster survivors. We look forward to working with the U.S. Administration to meet these vital goals along America’s Gulf Coast and across the nation.

Sincerely,

  • Dianne Aid, President, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice
  • Rev. Ken Brooker-Langston, Director, Disciples Justice Action Center
  • Larry Cox, Executive Director Amnesty International USA
  • Dr. Iva Carruthers, Executive Director, Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference
  • Charlie Clements, CEO and President, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • DeWayne Davis, Domestic Policy Analyst, The Episcopal Church
  • Annette Dickerson, Director of Education & Outreach, Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Levvone Dubose, CEO and Housing Coordinator, Bay Area Women Coalition, Inc.
  • Derrick Evans, Director, Turkey Creek Community Initiatives
  • Mary Fontenot, Executive Director, All Congregations Together (ACT)
  • Sharon Gauthe, Executive Director, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)
  • The Right Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of LA
  • Lan Le, Executive Director, National Alliances of Vietnamese American Service Agencies
  • Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Program Coordinator, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
  • Dr. Scott Myers Lipton, Co-founder, Gulf Coast Civic Works Project
  • Marylee M. Orr, Executive Director, Louisiana Environmental Action Network
  • Paul Orr, Executive Director, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper
  • Glenda Perryman, Executive Director, Immaculate Heart CDC
  • Ann Smith, President, Gamaliel Foundation
  • Bret Thiele, Coordinator, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
  • Rev. Jim Vanderweele, Senior Pastor, Community Church Unitarian Universalist (New Orleans, LA)
  • Monika Kalra Varma, Director, Center for Human Rights, RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights
  • Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
  • Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., National Chair, National Congress of Black Women, Inc.
  • Adren O. Wilson, Executive Director, Equity and Inclusion Campaign
  • Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
  • John Zippert, Director of Program Operations, Federation of Southern Cooperatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mary Fontenot – ACT (504) 495-5338 (cell) act_nola@yahoo.com
David Gauthe – BISCO (985) 438-2148 (cell) mybisco@yahoo.com

Over 50 Christian, Jewish, Muslim Leaders Urge President Obama during New Orleans Trip:  Make Poverty, Climate and Coastal Restoration Priorities in Gulf Coast Recovery


New Orleans, LA, September 15, 2009 –
As President Barack Obama arrives in New Orleans for this first visit since his historic election, over 50 leading religious officials and faith-based organizations, citing “significant gaps” towards meeting federal promises to Gulf Coast communities, are urging the President for long-term hurricane recovery policy to tackle poverty, coastal erosion and climate change. The signers include Rabbi Steve Gutow, Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, National Council of Churches; Sayyid M. Syeed, Islamic Society of North America; Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Bishop Charles E. Blake, Church of God in Christ; Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, The Episcopal Church; Dr. Joel C. Hunter; Nancy Ratzan, National Council of Jewish Women; Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners; and Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, Christian Church .

The letter explains, “Four years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck and the levees were breached, the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, climate change and coastal land loss have created a moral crisis across the region that demands a powerful response from people of faith and our elected officials.” Organized by Louisiana-based interfaith groups All Congregations Together (ACT) and Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO), the letter urges President Obama to look to a bipartisan bill, HR 2269, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, as a model for recovery policy to “ensure just and sustainable recovery for all Gulf Coast communities”. HR 2269 would create 100,000 green jobs for hurricane survivors rebuilding affordable housing and infrastructure, restoring wetlands and promoting energy efficiency and climate change resiliency.

The letter was written in coordination with “Fighting Poverty with Faith” (www.fightingpovertywithfaith.com), an interfaith week of action October 14th-21st, 2009 focused on urging elected officials to make poverty-reduction a key goal in the nation’s transition to a new green economy.

ACT and BISCO are co-founders of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign (http://gccwc.wordpress.com), a nonpartisan partnership of community, faith, environmental, student, and human rights organizations in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi and their national allies advocating for federal legislation based on HR 2269 the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act.

[TEXT OF LETTER]

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We applaud your decision to travel to New Orleans to witness the state of recovery of the Gulf Coast. We also welcome the emphasis of this Administration on solving the bureaucratic struggles which hamper hurricane recovery funding from reaching the ground. Still, we are hopeful that after hearing from local leaders and hurricane survivors during your trip, you can return to Washington with a renewed understanding of the significant gaps that remain towards fulfilling the federal government’s promises of rebuilding stronger, safer and more equitable Gulf Coast communities. Four years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck and the levees were breached, the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, climate change and coastal land loss have created a moral crisis across the region that demands a powerful response from people of faith and our elected officials.

Our national response to these natural and man-made disasters has yet to protect the well-being of the Gulf Coast’s most vulnerable people and places through long-term policies which restore the environment, rebuild lives and respect human rights.

As communities of faith, we are grounded in a shared tradition of justice and compassion and we are called upon to hold ourselves and our nation accountable to the moral standard of this tradition. As we look across America’s Gulf Coast, we see:

Ø      Thousands living in toxic FEMA trailers as they struggle to rebuild their homes;
Ø      Tens of thousands of displaced survivors unable to return home with dignity and safety;
Ø      Homelessness and rental housing costs rising while affordable housing projects grind to a halt with the crash of financial markets;
Ø      Insufficient access to health care facilities, particularly in the areas of mental health where needs for these facilities and services have grown substantially for survivors; and
Ø      Many more unable to access proper training and living wage work to pay for life’s necessities and find pathways out of poverty.

At the same time, Gulf Coast communities see deadlier storms, rising sea levels from climate change, and a majority of our nation’s coastal erosion occurring each year along the Gulf of Mexico, further threatening the future of our communities.

This means that four years after our nation’s largest disaster the survivors of these storms remain vulnerable; leaving a spiritual wound open across the region, one felt in God’s creation and every community across this country. We must act now to target the challenges facing our most vulnerable communities; rebuilding more resilient and equitable neighborhoods, restoring God’s creation and empowering our brothers and sisters to overcome the devastation and lift themselves from poverty.

While you visit New Orleans, faith communities across the country are engaging in an interfaith week of action “Fighting Poverty with Faith,” October 14th-21st, 2009, in order to urge our elected officials to make poverty-reduction a key goal of the transition to a new green economy. Surely, no part of the country presents a greater need and opportunity for environmental restoration and economic revitalization than America’s Gulf Coast.

Members of diverse faith communions have already responded generously to these disasters, volunteering thousands of hours to rebuild lives across Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and giving millions in charitable donations. Faith groups have formed powerful new partnerships with local community leaders, non-profits and other denominations, to lead some of the most successful efforts in the recovery.

We have learned that acts of faith and mercy alone, no matter how profound, cannot provide everything needed for a just recovery. Gulf Coast families deserve a federal government that recognizes their human rights and needs by partnering with them to rebuild and sustain their communities.

Billions in Congressionally appropriated funds remain un-obligated or unspent and could potentially be used to address unmet recovery needs in a pilot project for promoting innovative partnerships with local governments, faith-based and community organizations. A framework for accomplishing these goals already exists and continues to be embraced by a growing bi-partisan coalition of grassroots and elected leaders across the Gulf Coast. We urge your Administration and leaders in both parties of Congress to support policy based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 2269) to:

Ø      Provide targeted training and hiring of residents and hurricane survivors for jobs;
Ø      Rebuild affordable housing and vital community infrastructure;
Ø      Restore natural flood protection, including barrier islands and wetlands;
Ø      Promote energy efficiency and resiliency to future disasters and climate change;
Ø      Make contracting and subcontracting opportunities accessible to local businesses; and
Ø      Work with community and faith-based non-profits and local governments to plan and implement recovery projects to target the needs and ensure the rights of vulnerable populations, especially women, residents with disabilities, low income, minority, and immigrant communities.

We look forward to working with your Administration to ensure just and sustainable recovery for all Gulf Coast communities.

Sincerely,

Mary Fontenot
Executive Director
All Congregations Together (ACT) of New Orleans

Sharon Gauthe
Executive Director
Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)

Rabbi Steve Gutow
Executive Director
The Jewish Council of Public Affairs

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon
General Secretary
National Council of Churches USA

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed
National Director
Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America

The Most Rev. Charles E. Blake
Presiding Bishop
Church of God in Christ

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church

Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Charlie Clements
President and CEO
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

Ruth Flowers
Legislative Director
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Dr. Raymond B. Goldstein, International President; and
Rabbi Steven C. Wernick, Executive Vice President and CEO
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt
Co-Chair Special Commission on the Just
Re-building of the Gulf Coast,
National Council of Churches

Dr. Joel C. Hunter *
Senior Pastor
Northland – A Church Distributed

Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo
Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ

Shelley Lindauer
Executive Director
Women of Reform Judaism

Rev. Michael E. Livingston
Co-Chair Special Commission on the Just
Re-building of the Gulf Coast
National Council of Churches

Sr. Gayle Lwanga, RGS
National Coordinator
National Advocacy Center
Sisters of the Good Sheppard

Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski
Program Coordinator
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America

Stanley J. Noffsinger
General Secretary
The Church of the Brethren

Nancy Ratzan
President, National Council of Jewish Women

Dr. Meg Riley
Director, Washington Office
Unitarian Universalist Association

Rabbi David Saperstein
Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Dr. H. Eric Schockman
President
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

Dr. Ronald J. Sider
President
Evangelicals for Social Action

Dr. Ann E. Smith
President
Gamaliel Foundation

Rev. Jim Wallis
CEO and President
Sojourners

Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Jim Winkler
General Secretary
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

Bishop John F. White
Ecumenical and Urban Affairs Officer
African Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III
Executive Director, National Ministries
American Baptist Churches USA

Rabbi Shawn Zevit
Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

Dianne Aid
President
Episcopal Network for Economic Justice

Dr. Abed Ayoub
CEO
Islamic Relief USA

Roberta Avila
Executive Director
STEPS Coalition

Quo Vadis G. Breaux
Executive Director, Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal
New Orleans Rebirth Volunteer Center

Rev. Carol Burnett
Director, Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative
Director, Moore Community House

Rev. Al Carter
Chairman
Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)

Rev. Alan Coe
Minister for Disaster Recovery,
S.C. Conference, United Church of Christ

Rev. Tyronne Edwards
Founder/Executive Director
Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Inc. Phoenix, LA

Dr. Alice Graham
Executive Director
Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force

Sharon Hanshaw
Executive Director
Coastal Women for Change

Dr. Frederick Haynes, III
Senior Pastor
Friendship West Baptist Church

Rt. Rev. William W. Hutchinson
Bishop, Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church

Rev. Jacob Jang
General Secretary
Korean Presbyterian Church in America

David C. Jehnsen
Founder, The Institute for Human Rights and Responsibilities

Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins
Bishop
Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

Dr. Matthew V. Johnson
National Director
Every Church a Peace Church

Trinh Le
Community Empowerment Coordinator
Hope Community Development Agency (Hope CDA)

Glenda Perryman
Executive Director
Immaculate Heart Community Development Corp., Inc.

Marcia Peterson
Director
Desire Street Ministries/CDC 58:12 Inc.

Rev. Gilbert Scie
Pastor, Greater Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church of New Orleans

Rev. Cory Sparks
Chair, Commission on Stewardship of the Environment,
Louisiana Interchurch Conference

Bill Stallworth
City Councilmember of Ward 2
Biloxi, Mississippi

Sister Mary Turgi
Director
Holy Cross International Justice Office

Rev. Jim VanderWeele
Community Church Unitarian Universalist of New Orleans

Rt. Rev. Morgan Hope Ward
Bishop, Mississippi Conference, The United Methodist Church

* Organization listed for purpose of identification
###

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeffrey Buchanan (202) 257-9048 buchanan@rfkmemorial.org
Washington, DC—The Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign welcomes President Barack Obama’s decision to create a federal working group to examine our nation’s long-term recovery policies in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to extend the mandate of the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Recovery.

This announcement comes after 60 survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, joined by national human rights and faith-based advocates, spent two days last week in Washington, DC urging the Administration and Congressional officials to take a new approach to disaster recovery.  The group met with senior officials at the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as Members of Congress and staff in over 40 Congressional offices.  During these visits the partners of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign urged the Administration to form an inter-agency working group bringing together federal officials and local community leaders to develop solutions for tackling remaining recovery challenges.

“As someone who works in Louisiana’s rural communities rebounding from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, threatened by poverty, climate change and coastal land loss, I welcome this Administration’s renewed focus on Gulf Coast recovery,” said Sharon Gauthe, Executive Director, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO).  “As this new team begins its work, I would encourage the Administration to look to the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 2269) as a way to incorporate the lessons learned from the 2005 and 2008 hurricanes and to fulfill the federal government’s promise to create stronger, safer and more equitable communities.”

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, non-profits and community organizers stepped up to fill the gaps left by the federal government to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people and places, both in the immediate response and now in the recovery phase,” said Councilmember Bill Stallworth of the Biloxi City Council and Executive Director of HOPE CDA.  “As the Obama Administration composes its new plan in the Gulf Coast and for future disasters, we believe policy like HR 2269 could help to leverage the passion, innovation and knowledge of community and faith-based organizations to help restore not just neighborhoods but lives.”

Monika Kalra Varma, Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, said “The RFK Center along with the partners of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign welcome the Administration’s commitment to improving our national recovery efforts.  Strong policies are needed to ensure the fundamental human rights of displaced and low-income survivors to participate in recovery, to return home with dignity and safety, and to find decent work opportunities. Meeting these challenges for the survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will set an important precedent for how we deal with future disasters.
The Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign helped develop HR 2269 based on meetings with leaders and community members across the region.  The resulting bipartisan legislation builds upon the success of community and faith-based organizations to tackle recovery challenges while fighting poverty, restoring the environment and promoting resiliency.  The Campaign has grown to a coalition of 250 local and national organizations advocating for a renewed partnership between Gulf Coast communities and the federal government. The Campaign continues to advocate for policies based on HR 2269, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, as a pilot project for human rights-based disaster recovery to create jobs, rebuild and sustain vulnerable neighborhoods.

Source: The Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign http://gccwc.wordpress.com

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Charlie Melancon (D-LA), Joseph Cao (R-LA), Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Gene Taylor (D-MS) and  Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) are sending a powerful bipartisan Dear Colleague Letter to every member of Congress on June 1st urging them to mark the beginning of Hurricane season by co-sponsoring HR 2269, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act.  It states that:

“It is the responsibility of every Member of Congress to ensure that the federal government responds to the needs of all Americans.  The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act ensures that real progress is made toward rebuilding and sustaining the Gulf Coast region.”

See the letter:  http://gccwc.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gulf-coast-civic-works-act-dear-colleague.pdf

Also our friends from the KatrinaRitaVille Express and many GCCWC partners are in DC today kicking off Hurricane Season with a Press Conference in front of FEMA HQ in DC urging action on Gulf Coast recovery, see below: Continue Reading »

We’ve seen bailouts for Wall Street and a bailout for Main Street, but what a bailout for the forgotten streets of New Orleans and recovering communities along the Gulf Coast?  If we can work to sway 100 leaders in Washington, we can help bring justice to the survivors of our nation’s most devastating disasters, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Families across Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas continue to endure homelessness, poverty, abusive labor practices, the collapse of local institutions and rampant inequality in addition to the threats of environmental degradation and climate change.

On May 5th the bi-partisan Gulf Coast Civic Works Act of 2009 (HR 2269) was introduced to create 100,000 green jobs for hurricane survivors rebuilding communities and restoring the environment.  We need to tell our legislators, now is the time to make good on our broken promises and pass this vital legislation.

Tell Congress now is the time to empower hurricane survivors to return home and rebuild more sustainable and equitably communities.

Continue Reading »

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