Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Why Your Money Shouldn’t Go To The Red Cross

From today’s New York Times comes this expose of the Red Cross’s ineffectiveness. They have received 75% of all Katrina donations, yet people on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana have been frustrated with the results:

“Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck, the Red Cross had only one shelter in the county, and it was far from some of the most populated coastal towns. It had no shelter in New Orleans. ‘It’s purely a safety issue,’ said Armond T. Mascelli, vice president for response operations at the Red Cross. ‘People expect a Red Cross shelter to be safe, not to be at risk of flooding.’

Frustration over the early absence of the Red Cross is now compounded by the realization that the organization has collected the bulk of public contributions, money that will be spent on emergency rescue and relief, not long-term assistance, and may never get to the coastal areas. The organization has garnered almost three-quarters of the $1 billion that Americans have donated to help the hurricane victims, with endorsements from President Bush, corporate America and many nonprofit organizations. Its duty, mandated by Congress, is to provide immediate assistance, a need that is rapidly diminishing as victims leave shelters.”

The article goes on to describe how the Red Cross’s coffers swell during emergencies, yet the money often goes unspent. Fully $40 million of the $1 billion collected after 9/11 remains in the bank.

However, the main long-term issue will be the right of return, that is, the right of New Orleans residents to return to their homes and neighborhoods.

One of the main jobs of the Red Cross in the emergency shelters has been to process families seeking temporary housing. They are given a limited number of choices for housing, usually in a city far away. But they have almost no say in what city they would be sent to, and if they decline, they are put at the end of the housing list once again.

The Red Cross has no plan for long-term care of the displaced, much less a plan for the resettlement of New Orleans for everyone besides the elite.

If you want your money to be of use, look at the community organizations who are beginning to add long-term planning to their ongoing provision of short-term emergency care.

Click here for a growing list or simply scroll down a few entries.

posted by @ 8:35 am | 0 Comments

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