Friday, September 02, 2005

KDKA: City, County Ready To House Katrina Refugees

KDKA: City, County Ready To House Katrina Refugees: "They are also waiting to see how many people in New Orleans would be willing to travel the long distance -- nearly 1,100 miles -- to Pittsburgh.
My only advice -- "Don't wait. Go. Go as soon as possible."

The details of the exact number can be ironed out after the buses get loaded. Send ten. Perhaps five return right away. Perhaps five return a few days later.

Fill the buses with some supplies and hit the road. Drop the supplies as you move southward. How many frozen perogies can you get in 24 hours on one of those PAT buses?

And, I'd not be too, too worried about getting all the people from New Orleans proper. Go to Dallas. Go to Houston. Go to the other counties and pick-up some people who are interested in the offer.

Otherwise, I'm very happy to see this news. I'm happy to see the outreach from city and county officials. Way to go.

My only tip -- (hardly advice) -- is to get 10,000 or so copies of a two or four page newsletter together that puts on paper the offer for travel and housing to Pittsburgh. Put the basics into words and make a few maps. Show the distance to Pittsburgh. Show the set-up around Allegheny County as to what areas have the spaces. Give a sample of the set-up. Give some phone numbers, web sites, and more FYI content.

It might be an impossible sell to get folks to Pittsburgh without a hand-out. Once people see something on paper -- and it doesn't need to look slick and glossy -- it becomes easier to understand and believe.

My only other hope -- (hardly advice and hardly a tip) -- is that the educational community is ready for the influx too. That extra capacity for the Pgh Public Schools doesn't look like a waste of money when you consider what those in Houston are facing. What suburban schools and what private schools are okay with students too? And, are the university leaders working their networks too?

A friend at LSU is still without email. However, a school in Florida has set up those professors and are offering services. That was quick thinking on their part -- and the benefits are sure to follow.

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City, County Ready To House Katrina Refugees

Sep 2, 2005 5:42 pm US/Eastern
Pittsburgh (KDKA) City and County officials today announced plans to offer public housing for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

County Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy say they have identified 700 available beds in the city and the county.

The Pittsburgh Project located on Charles Street in the North Side, has 320 beds; the Allegheny County Housing Authority has 142 units; the county's Kane Regional Centers have 150 beds; and the city's housing authority has 150 units.

City and county officials also hope to have a 1-(800) number for individual families who would like to offer space in their homes for refugees.

Additionally, Port Authority Transit has 10 buses ready to transport people from New Orleans to Pittsburgh, as early as Sunday.

Officals are already in contact with authorities in New Orleans; but before they head south, they are waiting for a definitive plan.

They are also waiting to see how many people in New Orleans would be willing to travel the long distance -- nearly 1,100 miles -- to Pittsburgh.

Mark Cherny, Allegheny County's Direcetor of Health and Human Services, will coordinate the joint city and county effort.

Esther Bush, President of Pittsburgh's Urban League, reminded authorities of cultural issues that may arise -- namely that many of the refugees will be African-American and indigent, and that they should keep an open mind.