Thursday, October 26, 2006
Baker wants disaster housing reform
A recent setback for U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge, is bad news for all of us who live in areas regularly threatened by hurricanes. Baker and many of his congressional colleagues worked to have the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development put in charge of disaster housing.
We believe HUD is the logical choice for such responsibility. Baker's best efforts failed however, and responsibility for disaster housing will remain with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
On the bright side, the battle led by Baker appears to have assured better handling, even under FEMA. We may have seen an end to evacuees being housed on luxury liners or in the totally impractical FEMA trailers.
The FEMA-provided trailers, which Baker described as a waste of money, are not "mobile homes," and do not meet the required standards for safety in coastal areas. They are simply travel trailers. A New Orleans-area man, who moved into a motel after his FEMA trailer was violently battered by what was described as a routine storm, said the trailer "rattles, it rolls. It is like telling you to get out."
Baker has fought some hard fights over disaster issues and suffered some disappointments. We believe the gains he has made regarding disaster housing, however, compensate for those projects that failed to make it through the legislative maze.