A new home

houston skyline2.jpgThis Washington Post article reports that a survey by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health has found that less than half of all New Orleans evacuees living in emergency shelters in Houston said they will return to the Crescent City and that about two-thirds of those who plan to relocate are probably going to settle permanently in the Houston area.
The findings in the survey are consistent with my anecdotal experience in talking with evacuees while volunteering over the past couple of weeks at the George R. Brown Convention Center and at my family’s church here in The Woodlands. Few of the evacuees who I have spoken with plan to return to New Orleans, primarily because they have lost everything and they do not believe that they will have any employment opportunities for a long time if they were to return. Those who have relatives in larger cities in the region tend to gravitate toward those family members, but few of the evacuees have any desire to move away from the region. I helped cook breakfast for some evacuees this past Tuesday morning, and one nice man put it to me in this way with a wry smile: “If we were to leave [the region], where would I fish?”
Finally, every evacuee with whom I have spoken has expressed heartfelt gratitude for the kindness and hospitality that Houstonians have shown them. One of my sons and I are looking forward to working the morning shift (4 a.m. to 10 a.m.) tomorrow at the Brown Convention Center, and it appears that we will be helping the last group of evacuees at the Brown prepare to move on to smaller shelters or apartments. Houston officials are projecting that the Brown Convention Center shelter may be able to be closed by as soon as the end of this weekend. The Astrodome and Reliant Convention Center shelters at Reliant Park are currently scheduled to be closed by early next week, although the Reliant Arena shelter at Reliant Park will probably continue to be City’s center for processing evacuees to smaller shelters and permanent housing for several more weeks.
Finally, the NY Times carried this nice piece about Houston‘s civic efforts to assist the evacuees from the Gulf Coast.
Update: Just got word that the Brown Convention Center will close as a shelter after dinner next Tuesday, September 20.

4 thoughts on “A new home

  1. Poll of Evacuees

    They need a bigger sample, a more diverse sample from original location, but there’s some interesting things in this Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard Schoo…

  2. Tom,
    As a Denver resident, I have been nothing short of amazed to see how you Houston folks have handled this evacuee situation, even as it now appears these folks are more-or-less your new permanent residents. Seems to me Judge Robert Eckels, even though he seems to have problems looking directly into a news camera (as shown on the O’Reilly Factor one night):), is a prime example of forward-thinking leadership.
    Makes me wish the Denver area, which also has a quite high apartment vacancy rate, had received more evacuees, though the 1000 we did get are also getting into jobs and housing as well.

  3. Brad, thanks for the kind words. My sense is that it would have been difficult for places such as Denver to take on many more evacuees than it did because the vast majority of folks from the Gulf Coast simply do not want to leave the Gulf Coast region. Accordingly, Houston, being in the region, is the most logical metro area for most evacuees to relocate.

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