Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A status report on UAAD’s progress regarding FEMA’s mobile home/module home donation program

As the CEO of United Affirmative Action Development Corp, (UAAD), I took an interest in how our 501c3 could get involved in FEMA’s mobile home, module home donation program. After many phone calls, emails and correspondence with various FEMA officials, many being evasive and some being downright dishonest, we were later introduced, in late November, to Mr. Roman Napoli, a FEMA official. During the conversations with FEMA officials, it was always stated that UAAD alone was the only non-profit who had expressed an interest
in the program. UAAD then began a process to form Louisiana non-profit Recovery Coalition,(LNPRC), inviting any and all non-profits, Faith Based Organizations, Civil Rights Organizations to include the Nation of Islam, to join together to address the housing concerns of the Katrina/Rita hurricane victims.
After filing a complaint to Congressional Representatives and other pressures, Mr. Napoli and other FEMA officials met with Dr.(name can’t be used), a representative from Operation Hope and me representing UAAD on December 6, 2006 at the FEMA building on the West Bank in New Orleans, LA.
A representative from Plaquemines Parish indicated he would rather have the units requested awarded to his non-profit, was advised that they could only be awarded to UAAD, which he agreed. A draft document was drawn up by Ms. Verdie Culpepper after the meeting, showing that Plaquemine Parish would be awarded 120 mobile homes which the representative indicated would be the amount he would need for Plaquemine Parish.

Mr. Napoli and others at the table on behalf of FEMA, indicated that the process should move smoothly from this point and a final draft should be forthcoming soon. With Ms. Culpepper’s advice and being provided with the proper documentation, UAAD has spent considerable resources traveling around the state of Louisiana, organizing Coalition Partners and signing individuals as requested by FEMA to receive FEMA mobile homes and modules.

UAAD was told on several occasions that Mr. Napoli or/and Ms. Culpepper would be available for consultation while the draft was being finalized.
UAAD asked that any information and proposals we submit be made available to the public. We felt that since this was a program FEMA had previously indicated that Community Organizations could be instrumental in helping to develop, we felt it would be better to develop the program in an open forum.

At the December 6 meeting it was indicated that a few Community Organizations had expressed an interest in a few of the units. ACORN, whom we had invited to this meeting, was scheduled to meet the following day Dec. 7th.

FEMA was advised that UAAD would put as much information as possible on its web-site,
www.uaadcorp.com in order that others could participate with the coalition LNPRC.

UAAD has kept Mr. Napoli and Ms. Culpepper aware of our proposals throughout the process.

The manner in which the proposal is being finalized is creating financial and other burdens on UAAD and its Coalition Partners. After devising several proposals to implement the process, it appears that without FEMA’s consultation as previously promised; only conflict and confusion will develop. UAAD has requested verbally and in writing for FEMA to call a meeting or at least a telephone conference to coordinate a unified workable program. FEMA refuse to do so.

This week while seeking financial assistance in Belle Chase, LA, I was told by the Exec. Director of HANDS of HOPE Mr. Benny Puckett that he was displeased with the program UAAD was promoting in the Parish. When asked what his objections were he stated that the program was devised to take advantage of the Hurricane Victims. It was stated that HANDS of HOPE was a faith based 501c3 and funded by the United Way and others, would not get involved with our organization(s). When asked if his organization would provide UAAD with a workable plan that could be implemented due to our not having funding. Mr. Puckett did not have an answer. When asked if his Faith Based 501c3 backed by the United Way and others, would devise a plan, and submit to FEMA, in order to help the Hurricane Victims, he looked at me as though I was nuts. He went on to state he was going to contact the Parish President who is a friend of his and report his dissatisfaction with UAAD’S proposals. It now appears that there may be some substance to Mr. Puckett’s influence in Plaquemines Parish Government.
Since our conversation, it appears that the permit office of which Ms. Connie Treadway is in charge, is refusing to process permits and letters requested and promised to Hurricane Victims of that Parish, many being people of color.

UAAD is now awaiting a written request from the Plaquemines Parish representative who recently asked that UAAD take his organization off UAAD’s web-page which he had previously authorized.

In a conversation with Mr. Naploi of FEMA, it appeared that he was indicating that our program had indications of being for-profit in violation of FEMA policy. When asked what led him to indicate so, he related that he had other matters to take care of and did not give an answer. When UAAD presented our proposal to FEMA, we indicated how we were going to build a relationship between UAAD a non-profit and UEDC for profit. Neither Mr. Napoli nor Ms. Culpepper expressed any objection. In the event there is a conflict between the relationship of the for-profit and the non-profit we would expect that FEMA would have or will spell out such conflicts.

Again after traveling the state of Louisiana promoting this program, it appears from the conversation I had with Mr. Napoli this PM is that FEMA intend to delay this program, promoting further suffering to the Hurricane Victims.

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