« | »

Katrina Refugees Want Pay To Leave Hotel

The saga of the Katrina refugees just keeps getting better and better.

From the DNC’s favorite organ, the New York Times:

Storm Evacuees Seek Money for Vacating Queens Hotel

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
February 4, 2006

Representatives of Hurricane Katrina evacuees who are resisting their removal from a Radisson hotel in Jamaica, Queens, have asked the hotel’s management to contribute $2,500 to each family in return for leaving, according to people on both sides of the discussion.

The proposal was made this week in a meeting between the hotel’s manager, Tony Pinto, and three local leaders who helped organize a protest at the hotel, the Radisson J.F.K. Airport, in January. The leaders were the Rev. James Pullings Jr. and the Rev. Donald Hudson, pastors at two Queens churches that have worked with the evacuees, and Charlie King, a lawyer and a Democratic candidate for New York State attorney general.

"Radisson had said that they would be willing to help the evacuees were they to transfer out of the Radisson to another place in New York, or to buy bus tickets or even plane fare to another part of the country if they wanted to relocate," Mr. King said. "We thought that a better idea would be to provide, to some small degree, some financial security for the Katrina families at the Radisson."

The hotel’s owners will meet with the families’ representatives on Tuesday, although they said that they did not think they were under any obligation to pay the evacuees to leave.

"What the hotel is wondering is why private citizens are coming forward and asking the hotel for things that are FEMA’s responsibility," said Marc Leffman, the chief executive of French Quarter Hospitality, a company in Atlanta that owns the hotel.

About 30 families remain at the 12-story Radisson, the last of about 120 Gulf Coast-area families who arrived there after the hurricane last fall. Their rooms are paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is charged with finding housing for the evacuees. Agency officials have said they cannot compel hotels to provide rooms for extended periods.

Mr. Leffman said the hotel was charging the federal agency less than the usual rate for the rooms and had also provided the evacuees with free use of its conference rooms and storage space for donated items and food.

"As a private business, I think we’ve met the needs," Mr. Leffman said. "And no one has ever asked us for any money before this."

Typically, the hotel’s other guests are airline employees, with an average stay of about one day. Some evacuees at the Radisson have been living there for as long as five months. In January, the hotel’s managers told the remaining evacuees that because of a scheduled $7 million renovation of the hotel they would need to find new housing by the end of January. That notice led to the protest organized by the local leaders and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, during which Mr. Sharpton threatened to boycott the hotel should it force the evacuees to leave.

Since the protest about 12 families have left the hotel and, like the other families who left, have relocated to a mix of city-managed housing, other permanent housing or other hotels in the metropolitan region.

Officials from the city’s Department of Homeless Services have been working with evacuees at the Radisson and with those living at six other hotels in the city to help them find more permanent housing. The city has held three housing fairs to help the evacuees apply for rent-stabilized housing in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Homeless services officials said they had been involved in discussions between the Radisson families’ representatives and the hotel management, but would not discuss specifics.

"For many months, the city and its nonprofit partners have been fully focused on helping the evacuees access benefits and secure permanent housing," Monica Parikh, an assistant commissioner at the department, said in a statement. "These conversations were no different."

Mr. King said that housing had been found for the families remaining at the hotel and that he expected that FEMA would pay for it. But contributions from the hotel, he said, would help provide the families with an incentive to move after months of uncertainty, as well as cover transition costs for families seeking permanent housing.

"We are under the impression that when people ultimately move into federal housing, the one thing that no authority is taking care of is either security or first month’s rent," he said. "So the idea was that this could also provide that money if that’s what a family decided to do."

I do love it that the Rev. Al Sharpton is threatening to lead a boycott against the Radisson hotel chain if they don’t give in to these demands.

How exactly would that work?

And when do you think was the last time Mr. Sharpton ever stayed at a Radisson? He’s been riding on the FEC matching campaign funds gravy train for years.

Al goes first class or he doesn’t go at all.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, February 4th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

No Responses to “Katrina Refugees Want Pay To Leave Hotel”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.


« Front Page | To Top
« | »