Flood Victims' Housing Needs Called Unmet

Article excerpt

Social-service workers and volunteers in St. Charles County believe the need for housing assistance for flood victims far exceeds the level of need recognized by federal and local government officials.

Miriam Mahan, director of Sts. Joachim & Ann Crisis Care Services, plans to enlist volunteers to knock on hundreds of hotel doors, trailers and tent flaps to prove it.

Mahan, who also works as administrator for the St. Charles Disaster Relief Center, estimates 200 families with unmet housing needs.

"Do I have names and numbers? No, I don't," she said. "We're going to go out there and get them."

Many of the displaced families are in apartments that they think of as temporary but that the government views as permanent housing, Mahan says. Also, many flood victims are excluded from housing surveys because they do not have telephones.

Tim Burke, a Federal Emergency Management Agency employee who coordinates the efforts of voluntary groups in disaster relief, says a group of volunteers for Christian Reform World Relief is surveying all the individuals, families and business owners who applied for disaster relief in St. Charles County.

The survey began in late August. From Sept. 2 through Sept. 11, the volunteers contacted 825 individuals. Burke shared the survey results at a meeting Tuesday morning at St. Charles City Hall. The meeting was held to help coordinate independent disaster-relief efforts with government-run programs.

Burke told the two dozen people there that only eight of those people contacted by telephone said they had been unable to find a place to live. Ten people asked how they could get a government-issued trailer, but half of those people already were living in government-subsidized apartments and did not qualify for the trailer program. …