The latest surprise for those of us who haven't been able to return home is this: Our landlords want their rent, even though the city won't allow us to occupy our houses and apartments. Why? Because FEMA will use the apartments apparently, for their own workers. And in this way, having already gotten rid of the "undesirable" underclass, the city and federal government can know whittle away at the renting/working class, including artists, musicians and teachers.
I can certainly understand why landlords would want to get rent, but I'm surprised that there isn't any aid available to negotiate this limbo period. FEMA is issuing money to cover relocation expenses. The landlords want that money to come to them, which leaves the hurricane victims--me included--with no money to cover their current living situation. Yet, for most of us, we only have the landlord's word that our homes are habitable and that are things are still there. I called FEMA today and they had no answers, and actually told me I should be grateful they were giving me anything at all. Then I tried the Red Cross, but the only numbers on their website are for people wanting to give money. Then I called FEMA again and they directed me to the Louisiana Recovery Hotline, where I was told "Landlords can do whatever they want." Is that the offical state response? I asked. Yes, said "Hazel". When I asked how I could be expected to give up my apartment when the city won't allow to return to collect our things, she had no answer. "Call the state police" she said, "I think they're letting people in." This, of course, is not true, and the number she gave me is never answered. I called back again and spoke with someone new--"If people are giving out phone numbers as answers to questions, shouldn't they be numbers that actually work?" I asked. This second person was a bit more helpful and told me that in a conversation with a landlord yesterday, she discovered that the landlords can rent to new tenants as long as they store our things--and "if they throw your stuff outside and put a tarp over it, that's considered storage."
Apparently the New New Orleans will consist only of property owners and slumlords--what a great way to attract tourists!