“From housing to health care to education, the region remains in a state of crisis.” – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, August 2009
On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina took the lives of more than 1,836 people, displaced more than 1 million residents, and damaged more than 200,000 Gulf Coast homes in a 90,000 square mile area. The damage caused by the flooding, storm surge and high winds destroyed schools, hospitals, roads, community centers, bridges, parks and forestlands. In the end, the Gulf Coast suffered more than $100 billion in damage, making Katrina the costliest and most deadly hurricane in the history of the United States.
Four years after Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast remains in a state of crisis. Today, the public infrastructure is still badly damaged; thousands of residents live in toxic government issued trailers; affordable housing projects have ground to a halt with the crash of financial markets; coastal erosion threatens the very existence of communities, destroying vital natural flood protection; tens of thousands of displaced survivors are unable to return home; and many more are unable to access proper training and living wage work to lift their families out of poverty.
Speaker Pelosi, you have promised to do everything possible to rebuild the Gulf Coast. We would like to take you at your word. Your website lists the Congressional actions taken in the Gulf Coast, but the reality is that the Gulf Coast is still suffering four years after Katrina, and the injustice is happening on your watch.
Today, there is a regional and national movement to respond to the crisis and rebuild the Gulf Coast through the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 2269). The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act is based on a simple idea: Create 100,000 prevailing-wage jobs for Gulf Coast residents and displaced survivors to rebuild the public infrastructure that was damaged in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. HR 2269 is a resident-led effort that creates green jobs and training opportunities for local and displaced workers to rebuild public infrastructure and restore the environment.
Currently, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act has 30 bi-partisan co-sponsors, along with 240 community, faith, environment, labor and student-based organizations. HR 2269 also has the support of the New Orleans City Council, the Bayou Parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne, the Louisiana Republican Party, and the California and Missouri Democratic Parties.
Last year, on your web site, you stated that you would do everything possible to support Gulf Coast recovery. We ask you today, on the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, to take two small, but powerful actions:
1. We request that you ask the five committee chairs where the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act sits to report back to your office on the bill before the Congressional winter recess;
2. We request that you sign on as a co-sponsor to the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act. We realize that you only co-sponsor a few bills a year, but this bill is of such importance that your signing on to HR 2269 will be a powerful symbol to other House members and to the nation about the importance of rebuilding the Gulf Coast. We ask that you respond to our request by Sept. 15, 2009.
Jethroe Moore, President, NAACP, Silicon Valley/San Jose
Cindy Chavez, Director, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council
Scott Myers-Lipton, Co-Founder, Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign
James Rucker, Director, ColorOfChange.org
Pelosi rally leads to small, but important victory on 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
by Scott Myers-Lipton
To commemorate the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast Civic Works (GCCW) Project, the campus wing of the GCCW Campaign, held a successful rally in front of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in San Francisco on Aug. 28, 2009. The event was co-sponsored by the GCCW Project and NAACP Silicon Valley/San Jose.
As a result of our advocacy, the Speaker’s Office has agreed to do two things: First, they agreed to begin a dialogue with the GCCW Campaign and with Congressmember Zoe Lofgren’s office about how to move HR 2269 forward. These conversations will begin next week.
Second, the Speaker’s Office agreed to call the office of Rep. George Miller, chair of the Education and Labor Committee, a key committee where HR 2269 sits, to inquire about his commitment to the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act.
We believe that the next several months will be critical as we work toward passage of the GCCW Act. The GCCW Project looks forward to working together with our 250 coalition partners to reach our collective goal of creating 100,000 civic works jobs for Gulf Coast and displaced residents to rebuild their own communities.