UNITY Holds Press Conference to Release Report on Abandoned Building Findings

UNITY Director of Programs Angela Patterson comforts Ms. Carrie Handy as she recounts her painful story of living in a gutted house for over three years

The Abandoned Buildings Outreach Team of UNITY of Greater New Orleans held a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 24, at 10 a.m., to release the Team’s findings and recommendations from 18 months of combing the city’s abandoned buildings in search of elderly and disabled survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

The press conference was  held at the site of an abandoned building with gutted walls in which Ms. Carrie Handy, age 61, a native of New Orleans, and her elderly brother lived for years after Katrina until they were discovered by the Abandoned Buildings Outreach Team. Ms. Handy, who is disabled, has been housed since May in a safe, habitable apartment where she was placed by the UNITY collaborative.

Thus far, the team has found 154 people, nearly all disabled Katrina victims, living in abandoned buildings without electricity or running water — most with unrepaired flood damage, often with gaping holes in the walls and roofs. New Orleans presently has over 55,000 abandoned commercial and residential buildings – the highest rate of abandoned buildings in the nation, and searches of abandoned buildings on random samples of census blocks indicates at least 3,000 people are living in these conditions.

At the press conference, the 4-member team released a detailed report, “Search and Rescue Five Years Later: Saving People Still Trapped in Katrina’s Ruins.” Three people who were rescued from abandoned buildings around the city  and members of the Abandoned Buildings team spoke about the abandoned buildings homeless crisis.

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