Houston tells evacuees to find a job or get out

In the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, Katrina evacuee Samuel Smith sits on a donated futon and watches a borrowed television in a subsidized apartment the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided for six months. The unemployed truck driver just started looking for work.
That would infuriate U.S. Rep. John Culberson, a Houston Republican who wants what he calls “deadbeat” evacuees from New Orleans out of his city.
“Time has long since passed for the able-bodied people from Louisiana to either find a job, return to somewhere in Louisiana or become Houstonians,” said Culberson, whose district neighbors the city’s southwest pocket where many of 150,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees settled in Houston.
“You have to make an effort not to have a job in Houston,” he said.
Labor analysts tend to agree.
…The WorkSource building — like the attitude of Houstonians — is much different than in the weeks after busloads of Louisiana residents were brought to the city. Gone is a table near the front door where evacuees could collect information on assistance programs, and the office no longer has a backlog of sympathetic employers eager to hire refugees.
“The attitude has shifted,” said Rod Snyder, manager of WorkSource’s southwest office.
WorkSource reports the agency has placed about half of the 24,000 refugees who sought work through their programs and training. Most of the other half abandoned the training or lost touch. Asked if there was any reason why a person who wanted a job in Houston couldn’t find one, Ron Rodriguez, director of operations for WorkSource, said, “No.”

Dropping off a few applications at photo labs in the past year doesn’t constitute getting “to a point where things weren’t happening.”

A Zogby Poll of Katrina evacuees surveyed in Houston found:
85% of them were unemployed
69% of them employed before Katrina
60% of them looking for work
25% had applied for 10 or more jobs
58% want to stay in Houston

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