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Three years after Katrina: from compassion to racist stereotypes

Today marks the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The images of the suffering poor left behind in New Orleans caused many people to rediscover that poverty still exists in our country.

There was hope that this discovery would lead to a renewed commitment to wipe out poverty.

Three years later there is little evidence of this commitment.

Tens of thousands of low income Katrina survivors live today in Texas cities while bigots and racists paint false and hateful stereotypes against them, unchallenged by Texas’ political, religious and media leaders.  This racist backlash has been allowed to take hold in Texas public opinion, and especially in Houston, resulting in a complete lack of government action to help lift these families out of poverty.

We have squandered these three years.  Instead of working to understand the nature of this poverty and finding ways to overcome it, we have retreated into easy and comfortable excuses.  We blame the poor and feel no obligation to help them overcome poverty.

Today another major Gulf hurricane is racing toward Louisiana and Texas.

I started my commitment to housing justice for people and communities with low incomes in 1975 in Austin's Clarksville community. These years of working side-by-side with dedicated community leaders to find solutions to housing and community development challenges have taught me some things and I’m learning new things every day.

2 comments on “Three years after Katrina: from compassion to racist stereotypes

  1. Susan Sharlot


    Specifically, what would you recommend be done, and by whom, and with what resources, to help the “tens of thousands of low income Katrina survivors liv[ing] in Texas cities….” overcome poverty?

    What would the process be, and who would be involved, in implementing suggestions you may have?



  2. I am working on this topic and will post some ideas soon.

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