Heartbreak Hotels

For Katrina evacuees in New York, it's no jobs, no phones, no closets, missing meals, and a government that wants you outta there

It was like some positivity, you know? And there's been times when it's been really, really rough and I really miss my home, and I miss my friends and I miss the way of life I had. And I have school through and I have these wonderful teachers and wonderful people, students. It's really been a big positive in my life. I don't know what I'd do without it.

[FEMA has] been making these ultimatums. I should be able to make my own ultimatums, like give me my rental assistance then. I just don't know. If they don't have the funding, then get the hell out of Iraq. Get the hell out of Iraq and take care of your own people. Just like if a man has a family and he's off with somebody else's family and paying their bills and then his own family's suffering—you gotta, like, take care of your own people first and your own country.


imageChristopher LaDay, 33
Irish Channel, New Orleans
at the Ramada Plaza Hotel Laguardia

Well, trying to find an apartment here in New York—the system, the way that they have the system is like, you know, you have no available space. When you try to get the type of apartment you're comfortable with, and you know you want to live in the type of environment you are comfortable with, they want to put you where they want to put you at. They want to come and they want to send people to the Bronx. You got murders going on in the Bronx; you got robberies going on in the Bronx. You gonna be responsible for us, if you put us in the Bronx? That's the question they need to sit down and think about.


imageJanine Young, 37
Uptown New Orleans
at the Apollo Hotel

I have lost all faith in my government. I fucking hate them. It was bad enough getting stuck down there and not have the police know anything what to do, not have FEMA come in. I mean, we heard on the radio that they said it was too dangerous for them to come in. How do you think that made us feel that were stuck down there, you know? We heard on the radio that the mayor was shooting at people and making them turn around. Or, not him, but he gave orders to the police force to do it. We heard the announcement. We heard that the twin span was completely out. From one time to another time we were told there was no way out of the city. You expected the government to come in and help.

[Now] I feel claustrophobic in my room. Not having a closet is a huge thing for me. You can't keep anything organized. There isn't a drawer to keep anything in. Nothing. You can't eat anything here; there's no phone line. It's not that it's remote, but it's pretty far away from anything you have to accomplish as far as getting what kind of assistance. They're treating it like you're in this system like you're a welfare addict and someone who's never worked a day in your life and that you should spend your whole day filling out forms and going through all these things like they put poor people on the systems through. It should be a full-time job. I don't even bother anymore. I don't put time and effort into things, you know, like the food stamps and all that. It's such a comic thing for me. They want me, after I have a job, to go to this work center and sit there for like eight hours a day to get job training in order to qualify for food stamps.


imageCzar Nicholas, 30
Uptown New Orleans
at the Ramada Plaza Hotel Laguardia

I've looked at Craigslist. I've gone to people directly in the neighborhood. They kind of understand me, but they're skeptical as well. Say if an apartment was $1,000 a month and I only gave them $2,000, what's going to assure them that they are going to keep getting money every month? I ain't got no job.I don't have a legitimate 1040 out here. They're kinda skeptical on that. You tell them FEMA's going to pay for it and they say FEMA's kicking you out of the hotel. How you say they going to give you money all of a sudden? How you going to get money from someone that's telling you to bounce?


imageSteve Mosgrove, 27
Uptown New Orleans
at the Ramada Plaza Hotel Laguardia

Them not continuing this hotel thing? It's got to end sometime. I don't enjoy being on any kind of public assistance. But at this point it is just getting by. Eventually I'll have to get some type of work, get on my feet. It's just too long or too much.

My dad passed away in the hurricane. He was in Chalmette—a tidal wave, basically. He got up to the attic. He had some supplies but he died. When we went up there, we found a full gallon of water, his medicines, some supplies and everything. The water was unopened. Whatever happened had to have happened relatively quick. My expectation is a heart attack or a snakebite.

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