Mirror on America

How the state of Gulf Coast recovery reflects on us all—Oxfam's report on the status of Gulf Coast recovery three years later.

When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed long-standing inequities in the US, President Bush vowed to "confront this poverty with bold action." But after three long years, many people on the Gulf Coast still lack homes and jobs.

Although the force of the storms was an act of nature, what the American people have since witnessed—an uneven and often incompetent recovery effort—is the result of deliberate human acts. If we refuse to address this as a nation, it will go down in history not only as a failure of leadership, but also as a failure to hold our government accountable.

Two fundamental indicators, housing and jobs, provide stark proof of the stalled recovery. Full recovery is possible only when affordable homes are coupled with secure, decent jobs. Without quality jobs and affordable housing, low- and moderate income families are unable to return to their former lives. Decent wages allow people to return home and recreate vibrant communities by providing the necessary workforce to rebuild the region.

The situation grows increasingly critical, but despite challenges, there is a way forward. We face a historic election; the next president of the US must guarantee a just, equitable, and complete recovery. America must take immediate action to ensure that people struggling to rebuild their communities get the support that their hard work and innovation demand.

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