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WASHINGTON, DC-Pointing to the thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims who are still without sufficient housing three months after the disaster, representatives from several national housing organizations have called on the government to take action to better address the housing crisis. National Low Income Housing Coalition president and CEO Sheila Crowley noted that one of the outcomes of the disaster is that a spotlight was placed on the absence of a solid system of addressing homelessness.

“Unless a fundamental shift in public policy is made, we are setting the stage for a groundswell of new homelessness in this country,” Crowley said. “If we have many people from the Gulf Coast showing up at shelters across the country, it will be a testament to the ultimate failure in federal government response. It was decided by the federal government long ago that people who are victims of disasters are to be taken care of, and the government hasn’t done that.” According to NLIHC, tens of thousands of hurricane victims are still living in hotels and shelters.

“There are exceptional conditions in New Orleans,” National Alliance to End Homelessness president Nan Roman said. “It seems no help is being provided to the poor and disabled, at all.” National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty executive director Maria Foscarinis added that “Our goal is to prevent and reduce homelessness.”

The conference call–which also had participants from National AIDS Housing Coalition, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, New Orleans’ National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness and Unity for the Homeless–served as a platform for the organizations’ release of their call to Congress and the White House to take several outlined steps to rectify the Gulf Coast housing situation immediately. “We’re calling for a single [White House-based] entity to be responsible for transitional and permanent housing of those displaced,” Crowley said. “What we have are well-intended plans for how to do rebuilding but no coordination.”

Other recommendations included the establishment of a comprehensive housing assistance program for the displaced that is based on existing government housing programs. They also called for the scheduling of Congressional hearings assessing the current status of the displaced, the government’s role in the matter and what steps should be taken to more effectively handle housing needs going forward.

“The administration is responsible for responding and we’re critical of that, but it’s not partisan,” Crowley said. “We’ve been critical in the press of the government’s response, but we haven’t made the assertion that it is beyond repair…There needs to be a carefully crafted strategy predicated on the needs and desires of the people who will be living there.”

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