Hundreds of hurricane victims found themselves caught in the middle of conflicting information Thursday over what the future holds for their transitional housing needs.
At a morning news conference at City Hall, Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke of a $9 million long-term housing plan for the remaining evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center shelter.
“We’ve identified a number of apartment units where we’re seeking to put a hold on those units to move people,” Mayor Turner said.
The mayor said the funding would pay rent for up to six months for those people.
“The goal is to put people in housing in a better position than they currently are,” he said.
But at the same time Turner was speaking, evacuees at the GRB shelter were receiving a written notice from the American Red Cross titled “We’re Moving." The one-page flyer laid out plans to move to a new shelter at an old shopping mall over the next two days.
It was not the long-term housing pledged blocks away at City Hall.
“Nobody has mentioned anything about no six-month program,” said evacuee Christian Madison.
The conflicting information left evacuees confused.
“I mean, it’s a frustrating situation, and there’s not a whole lot I can do,” said evacuee Drew Takacs.
“I don’t understand it, either,” added evacuee Alice Shaw.
Shaw said she lost her mobile home during Hurricane Harvey.
“I don’t have nothing, I lost everything,” Shaw said.
The notice to evacuees stated the new shelter would be located at the former Northwest Mall in the 9500 Block of Hempstead Road. It said transportation would be provided to the location and a new cot and two new blankets would be provided.
To add to the confusion, the American Red Cross later said the former shopping mall shelter location was not a “done deal."
“We are reevaluating where the best place for our services should be,” said Laurie Nehring, a spokesperson for the disaster relief organization.
Mayor Turner had said there are approximately 1,050 people remaining at the convention center shelter. Two-thirds of those had a permanent residence prior to the hurricane and the remaining third were homeless prior to the storm. At the morning news conference, the mayor said he hoped to close the GRB by this Saturday. But in a text message, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office later clarified “there still is no solid schedule for when GRB (shelter) residents will be moved.”
Spokesperson Alan Bernstein did not address the confusion over the conflicting information. He said the only firm location to house evacuees is the Residences of Emancipation, located in the former Star of Hope shelter building east of downtown.