Friday, October 07, 2005

FEMA continues to toy with me...

and thousands of other more desperate people.

Yesterday I talked to a supervisor and faxed in a bunch of forms and various proofs of residence. The idea was to get a decision on rental assistance, which had been listed as pending. Now it isn't even listed as an option at all.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

FEMA speaks

This morning I actually got a supervisor on the phone. Here's what he had to say that might be useful to others who haven't been lucky enough to get any answers:

1. You do not need to apply to SBA if all you want is rental assistance. The SBA info is used if you are asking for money to cover property losses.  If you plan to claim any losses, you HAVE to apply with SBA first, and if you get turned down,then FEMA steps in.

2. If you want rental assistance, you need to fax in the Declaration and Release on the last page of the guide book "Help After a Disaster". Include a copy of a lease or other proof of occupancy.

I've been on the phone with these people for weeks and never was told either of these things. I was told, alternately, that they were waiting for an inspection, that they had waived the inspection, that I needed to apply to SBA, that I needed to drive 180 miles away, that it was automatic, that it was automated, that they needed no other information from me, blah blah blah...

On the other hand, I also noticed that the form they used for my case expired on February 28, 2003. Has it really been that long since Katrina hit? It certainly feels like it.

Write a novel in twelve weeks!

Well, not a complete novel.

Beginning at the end of October I'll be teaching a novel writing class online for Mediabistro. Online teaching is perfect for homeless transient refugees like me.

The goal is to have a novel sketched out at the end of twelve weeks. There will be some lessons along the way, but I think the value of a class like this is goal setting: character sketches, outlines and several workshopped chapters will be complete by the end of the session.

And, I did write my memoir this summer in ten weeks, so it can work!

You can sign up here here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

FEMA: "We don't make decisions...a computer does"

I just got off the phone with another rude, possibly even irate FEMA rep, who told me that my property would have to be inspected before they awarded me any rental assistance. But, she said, they are behind in their inspections. When I asked where I should live in the meantime, she had no answer. When I told her that last week I was told it didn't need inspection because I was in the worst hit zip code, she didn't have anything to say. When I told her that other people in my neighborhood have already received money, she said, "Well, we don't make the decisions. I mean, no human is involved. It's a computer generated award." How does that work? "If you answer the questions a certain way, it gives you the money." I said, "I guess I answered a question wrong." No reply.

So if everything is done by computer, why does this woman even have a job?