Vincent Anderson, who came to the region for the construction work, applauded Mr. Obama’s focus on the coast and said it was “high time” he start rebuilding the United States and pulling out of Iraq. So far, Mr. Obama’s policy toward the region has mirrored his plan for the nation - an emphasis on green jobs, pulling people from poverty, and housing help.
“Those things just feel like huge gestures,” said Kalima Rose, senior director of the Louisiana recovery effort for PolicyLink.
“What we’ve learned here in Katrina is going to be important in what the president is going to implement in other cities now - job initiatives and addressing the housing crisis - stuff that was pretty much dismantled over the last administration,” she said. “The fact alone they admit homelessness is a really big problem is a huge change.”
Ms. Rose, whose advocacy group advised the Obama transition team on urban policy, said she has seen the president lay down a liberal blueprint when talking about Gulf Coast recovery - from housing assistance and infrastructure projects to more funding for unemployment insurance included in his economic stimulus plan.
New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin told The Times that Mr. Obama could not have delivered a stronger message than sending Cabinet members on a multiday regional tour during the first 50 days of his term, which he did last week: “That sent a signal to me they are serious.”
“The citizens appreciated it,” he said.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who toured the region along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, said the administration has a cross-agency approach to rebuilding, and that his department is coordinating with Energy to push more projects like “Make It Right.” He said one family in those ecological homes pays a $3 monthly utility bill.
He said it’s about more than the environment - and will help save money and create jobs.
“Not every home is going to be a zero-emissions home, not every home is going to have solar panels, but there is lots that we can do even with $10,000 or $15,000 per home and those things can start to pay for themselves,” he said.
A promise kept?
After one month in office, Mr. Obama extended a federal post coordinating rebuilding efforts that was due to expire.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, told The Times he was “cautiously optimistic” that Mr. Obama will remain committed to the Gulf.
The pledge to help did not begin with his presidency. As a senator, Mr. Obama worked on Katrina issues and campaigned during Louisiana’s Democratic primary with a similar promise.View Entire Story
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