- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

About a dozen displaced workers rallied outside the Wilson Building downtown yesterday demanding that Mayor Anthony A. Williams release additional emergency relief funds for area residents affected by the attacks of September 11.
"Too much time has been wasted already and families' suffering has increased because of the inaction," said Terry Lynch, chairman of the Workers' Rights Board, a rally organizer.
Mr. Lynch and others specifically mentioned the need to give city residents greater access to the $1 million relief funds that Fannie Mae gave the city in October.
"Two months later, the money is sitting, and no money has been spent," Mr. Lynch said.
But Mary Lou Tietz, chairman of the local Federal Emergency Management Agency Board, which has oversight of the D.C. Emergency Assistance Fund, said that money is being distributed.
Mrs. Tietz said $100,000 has been released so far, and they expect to release an additional $100,000 this week. She added that the department has not received any complaints from people saying they were not getting access to the funds.
"The only person we have heard from is Mr. Lynch," she said. "And all the people he talks about qualify to receive funds. All they have to do is pick up the phone and call the local [distribution] organization in their ward, and that begins the process."
Eligible D.C. residents may receive up to $1,500 in financial support for rent, mortgage and utility assistance, according to a statement released by the mayor's office shortly after the rally.
In addition to direct financial assistance, eligible residents may also receive intensive case-management services for a three-month period.
Dee Dee Pryde-Williams, a tourism worker laid off in the wake of September 11, said she could use some help from the fund. But she has had trouble getting a straight answer from officials about whether or not she is eligible.
The 25-year-veteran of the Tourmobile organization said she is having a hard time paying the mortgage and providing for her six grandchildren.
"The hardest part of this thing is that I used to cook a potluck dinner for my co-workers, but I simply cannot afford that this year," Mrs. Pryde-Williams said. "I can barely afford to keep enough food in my own kitchen, and besides there are no more co-workers."
She and her husband, who had been with Tourmobile for five years, just bought a house in Anacostia. They have applied for any and all jobs they can find, but nothing has turned up.
"I have cabin fever," she said. "It's hard to go from 40 hours a week, five days a week to four days a month.."
Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, joined the protesters and said he was going to turn up the heat on the administration for the perceived delay in funds.
"Accountability here lies squarely with the executive branch," Mr. Mendelson said.
Brian DeBose contributed to this report.

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