Newsom slams Bush decision
to cut off hotel vouchers for Katrina
victims at beginning of holidays
Bush delays end to Katrina hotel vouchers beyond the holidays
November 22, 2005, 4:30 p.m.
The Bush Administration this afternoon announced it will not
end hotel voucher subsidies for Katrina survivors on December
1 as previously announced.
Stung by criticism it was pushing disaster survivors onto the
streets as holidays began, the administration today moved eviction
date to July 7.
November 17, 2005
Mayor Newsom yesterday urged President Bush to reconsider Bush
decision to end federal subsidy of hotel rooms for Hurricane Katrina
victims at the end of this month.
Newsom said he is dumbfounded by Bush policy being announced
with just two weeks notice and at the beginning of the holidays.
"I frankly am dumbfounded by a press release that we received
late yesterday from FEMA saying that they are no longer going
to pay for hotel vouchers for evacuees in the United States,"
"That memo went out stating that by the end of this month
- the beginning of the holiday season - that all of those who
are in hotels would no longer be afforded reimbursement from FEMA.
"This is in stark contrast to everything that the president
had said post-Katrina and everything he had been saying in terms
of the value we place on taking care of those evacuated and those
who were displaced from the hurricane.
"I am frankly dumbfounded that we have just two weeks. We
have in San Francisco
roughly 240 individuals that have worked
through the Mayor's Department of Housing as well as the Housing
"This is not an exclusive number of other evacuees who may
be in San Francisco, but that represents 85 families.
"They are now being told to get out of their hotel rooms
within the next two weeks at the beginning of the holiday season.
"It's beyond me the pale of the imagination that they can
be serious about this.
"Accordingly we have worked to find permanent housing for
which I will argue we will do on moral grounds
but frankly we should not have to do on principle."
Text of Newsom letter to Bush follows:
November 16, 2005
The White House
Dear President Bush,
Last fall, cities and states across the country heeded your call
to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In San Francisco, we responded swiftly and welcomed several hundred
evacuees to our city.
Since then, our faith based community; our city government family
and our charitable organizations have labored tirelessly to aid
the victims of that natural disaster. We are doing our part.
According to news reports today, your administration appears
unwilling to do its part. We are dismayed that FEMA plans to stop
paying for evacuee's hotels on November 30th. Furthermore, we
are shocked that you have chosen to do so at the beginning of
the holiday season.
Frankly, this decision is completely inconsistent with the appeals
you made in numerous public appearances.
We recognize that temporary housing is not the solution for our
citizens victimized by Hurricane Katrina. The San Francisco Mayor's
Office of Housing is working with at least 85 families to help
them find permanent shelter. In many cases this process will not
be completed by the arbitrary cut off date your administration
Mr. President, on September 3rd, 2003 you said: "The tasks
before us are enormous, but so is the heart of America. In America,
we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need."
I urge you to reconsider this ill-conceived and insensitive decision
immediately. The thoughtful and compassionate action is to ensure
that we help all the families find permanent and long term housing.
Gavin Newsom, Mayor