November 22, 2005

Sample Letter to ELECTED Officials regarding the eviction of Hurricane Katrina Victims



Rep.________________ or Senator_______________________
US House of Representatives U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20510

I was disappointed to learn that FEMA plans to evacuate more than 150.000 from hotels and other federally-supported housing on December 1. I am writing to urge you to take any and all action to reverse this ill-advised decision. As a member of the Millions More Movement, I am especially concerned about the number of displaced African Americans who are affected by this harsh and untimely action. The United States Senate has just adopted a resolution to display a statue of the civil rights icon, Mrs. Rosa Parks, in the capitol. Why would our government, then, evict people on the 50th anniversary of her historic action?

Something must be done. Please use your influence to urge Mr. R. David Paulison, FEMA’s acting director, to reverse this decision. While people desperately need permanent housing, untimely evictions will exacerbate, not reverse, the trauma hurricane victims have already suffered.

Thank you for your prompt action on this very critical matter.

Your name (and organization if you like).


The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461

You can also email the White House at


Lawsuit Filed to Protect Katrina Victims From Eviction; Louisiana's Eviction Procedures Violate Due Process

11/14/2005 5:07:00 PM


To: National Desk

Contact: Sabrina Williams, 240-463-6875 or 202-728-9557, or Clair Koroma, 202-728-9557, both of Advancement Project

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Today, a lawsuit was filed seeking a temporary restraining order to protect the interests of displaced residents, as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Ultimately, plaintiffs seek a declaration that Louisiana's eviction notice procedures are unconstitutional because they do not provide survivors an opportunity to be heard.

"Two months after Katrina, the residents of New Orleans most traumatized by the hurricane and its aftermath are now traumatized by the prospect of being evicted from their homes and losing all of their personal effects, without proper notice," said Judith Browne, co-director, Advancement Project, a national racial justice organization. "We merely want to establish fair rules, so that people can defend themselves, protect their personal property and their housing opportunities. Too many people are having their belongings thrown on the streets without due process as our Constitution requires."

Because Louisiana law merely requires that lessees whose whereabouts are unknown receive notice by tacking it to the door of the premises, tens of thousands of residents will be evicted without an opportunity to be heard. Factually, there is no realistic expectation that people who do not live in New Orleans, due to no fault of their own, but because of the devastating circumstances of Hurricane Katrina, will receive notice of eviction proceedings. If there is no expectation, that people will know, then this is a straightforward denial of due process. For example:

-- Janeice Sylvester resided in a rental apartment in Orleans Parish. Due to the hurricane, Sylvester is displaced and currently resides in LaPlace, La. When Sylvester visited her Hayne Blvd. apartment in early October, her belongings were in place and intact. During the time of her displacement from her apartment, Sylvester has made several attempts to contact her landlord, but has been unable to establish contact because the phone number was not functioning. On Nov. 4, Sylvester returned to her apartment to find a notice of eviction posted and a court date of Nov. 3. Sylvester has not been contacted by her landlord at any time, nor was there any known effort to establish contact with Sylvester.

-- For 17 years, Brenda Brooks has resided in the same rental property in New Orleans; she is currently displaced and living in Houston. Brooks first visited her apartment in early October. Brooks contacted the landlord and provided them with her temporary address in Texas and her cellular telephone number. During this conversation Brooks inquired whether there was anything she needed to do; she was told no. On Oct. 28, 29 and 31, Brooks returned to her apartment to clean it. At the time, there was no notice of any eviction proceedings. Brooks was subsequently told by a neighbor that a notice to vacate dated Oct. 27 had been posted on her door. Although she provided the landlord with her address in Texas, she has received no such notice by mail.

"Renters in New Orleans are facing evictions from landlords who want to renovate and charge higher rents to the out of town workers who populate the city," said Bill Quigley, lead counsel in the lawsuit. "Some renters have offered to pay their rent and are still being evicted. Others question why they should have to pay rent for September when they were not allowed to return to New Orleans."

The lawsuit brought against the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Clerks of the courts, and Constables contends that there are several ways to increase the likelihood that residents will have a chance to know that they are subject to eviction proceedings:

-- Extend the notice period to 60 days in order to give people a greater chance to learn about proceedings; and

-- Order the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which maintains information regarding the whereabouts of displaced residents to assist in the notice process and give adequate time for people to know what is happening and to have a chance to respond.

"Without such relief, displaced residents will be irreparably harmed by the loss of their housing opportunity and their personal property that is removed from the premises," concluded Quigley. "Haven't the residents in the Gulf Region lost enough?"


EDITOR'S NOTE: For a copy of the complaint, contact Sabrina Williams ( or 240-463-6875) or Clair Koroma ( or 202-728-9557).


/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

No comments: