UN housing expert talks to Hurricane Katrina survivors

Reportagem publicada na United Nations Radio.

By Jocelyne Sambira

Former residents of New Orleans and survivors of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina met with UN Housing Expert, Raquel Rolnik, on Thursday to share their testimonies and present the problems they face getting adequate housing.

Senior citizens, youth, veterans, immigration advocates came together at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City to meet with Raquel Rolnik who is conducting her first official visit to the United States.

At the town hall meeting, she was given a first hand account of house-related concerns people living in the United States have. She says while many government officials recognize the housing challenges, listening to community residents, she felt a sense of urgency.

“As a person I love the idea of having town hall meetings, that I can hear the people themselves. Here, you feel the radicality. When you talk with technicians, of course all of that it’s a little bit more diluted. But I’m happy to see that these issues that are here, today, I heard also in the meetings with city officials.”

During her two week tour, Ms. Rolnik will also visit Chicago, Pennsylvania, an Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Washington, DC.

She will present her formal report on US efforts to protect the right to housing to the UN Human Rights Council next March.

Sound bites

“As a person I love the idea of having town hall meetings, that I can hear the people themselves. Here, you feel the radicality. When you talk with technicians, of course all of that it’s a little bit more diluted. But I’m happy to see that these issues that are here, today, I heard also in the meetings with city officials.”

“Well, the feeling is that we definitely need to have a discussion, open discussion and re-appraisal of housing policies. I think a lot has been done in this country. This country has a history of intervening in housing sector, of building public housing, or intervening in the homelessness sector on innovating programs like rent subsidizing and other schemes. But in a way I think that was stuck in some point now. And I think the way forward need to be discussed.”

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