Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 4048)


Monday, November 5, 2007

Read this online: http://www.sjsu.edu/news
Contact: Scott Myers-Lipton, 510-508-5382, smlipton@sjsu.edu
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

GULF COAST LEGISLATION Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 4048) Introduced in Congress SAN JOSE, Calif., -- Prompted by a proposal developed at San Jose State University, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren has introduced in Congress the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 4048), groundbreaking legislation offering a renewed federal commitment to rebuild communities destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita by empowering the region's greatest assets, the disaster's survivors.

Reps. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana and Gene Taylor of Mississippi are co-sponsoring the bill. "Students have figured out what many others have yet to discover, and that is Gulf Coast residents and evacuees need living wage jobs to rebuild their own communities," said San Jose State Professor Scott Myers-Lipton, a national poverty expert.

"During the New Deal, the federal government established public works programs that created jobs for over eleven million people who built and repaired thousands of hospitals, schools and playgrounds. This is exactly what the Gulf Coast needs now."

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights have also been active participants in the creation of HR 4048. Professor Myers-Lipton estimates at least $4 billion in federal funding is needed to implement critical infrastructure projects that would result in 100,000 jobs for residents of hurricane-ravaged communities in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

HR 4048 would also give local residents and businesses top priority for jobs and contracts, and create a civilian conservation corps for young adults working on environmental programs to rebuild wetlands and urban greenery.

Project HistoryHR 4048 is based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, which was founded at San Jose State in November 2006. Professor Myers-Lipton wrote the original proposal for the project, which combined his academic interests in poverty, service learning, and social change with student outrage over the hurricanes' aftermath.

His students followed up by building a national network of college students and faculty supporters, many of whom have visited the Gulf Coast to learn from the local people about what should be included in the legislation. "The situation remains urgent," said Victoria Chavez, president of the SJSU student chapter of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project.

"Four of seven general hospitals in New Orleans and 65 percent of schools remain closed. Sixty thousand families throughout the Gulf live in 240-square-foot trailers that were meant to be temporary housing. Eighty percent of the public housing units in New Orleans remain closed, and the FEMA funds available to rebuild public infrastructure only covers one-eighth of the damage suffered in Louisiana alone, despite needing to cover five states."

Next Steps: Students across the country will discuss these issues at the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project's next major event, "A National Campus Sleep Out: A New Deal for the Gulf Coast" [click here] beginning at sundown Wednesday, November 14.

At SJSU, the event will take place on Tower Lawn, where university community members and Katrina victims will watch films, hear speakers and discuss HR 4048 advocacy efforts. HR 4048 has been in assigned to Education and Labor Committee for further consideration.

Read HR 4048 at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

Read more from Rep. Lofgren on HR 4048 at http://lofgren.house.gov/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1846 .

Read more on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project and the National Campus Sleep Out at http://www.solvingpoverty.com/ .

Read more on Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights at http://www.rfkmemorial.org/.

Read more on ACORN Louisiana at http://www.acorn.org/index.php?id=8219.

San Jose State -- Silicon Valley's largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 4,000 employees -- is part of the California State University system. SJSU's 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation's 10th largest city. ###


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