MANY KATRINA VICTIMS REMAIN HOMELESS:

Seventy-two percent of Americans think the Bush administration does not “have a clear plan for finding housing and jobs for people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.” Right-wing columnist Robert Novak wrote yesterday that only $27 billion has been spent of the $85 billion appropriated by Congress. “Of the $27 billion, nothing has been spent on housing.” “We have thousands of acres of homes just standing in ruins, and the pace with which that cleanup is going is bitterly frustrating,” Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) told Novak. The Brookings Institution’s “Katrina Index” found only 16,000 building permits have been issued in New Orleans “because of the cloud of uncertainties still lingering over the city.” Rebuilding is slow because “FEMA has not released its revised flood plain zones for the state” that would tell developers the best locations for rebuilding. Also, the $4.2 billion housing request Bush will tout Wednesday contains a “hazard mitigation” program that would give cash reimbursements to the newly-homeless, but would not allow new homes to go up in the place of those Katrina destroyed.

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