As the murky waters inhabit the destroyed homes of the Southeast, inland states are adapting to welcome Hurricane Katrina survivors into their cities. Although far from the sea, Fort Collins advocated an emergency ordinance banning the "three-unrelated" rule for those victims who have sought refuge locally.
"Obviously we are a long way from the storm area, and probably most storm survivors who seek refuge in Fort Collins will not be housed in a manner that violates our housing ordinance," said City Councilman Ben Manvel, district 1. "However, my estimate is that the emergency ordinance will affect a small amount of people."
Emergency Ordinance No. 110, passed Sept. 6, is in accordance with Resolution 99, which recognizes and encourages local support for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The ordinance suspends the prior "three-unrelated rule," banning the occupation of more than three unrelated persons in a single dwelling unit.
The recent ban on the ordinance may be a precursor to a permanent change in the "three-unrelated rule."
"The city is scheduled to have its first reading of an ordinance to replace the three-unrelated ordinance on Oct. 18, at which time all details (including punishments) related to occupancy restrictions will be set," Manvel said.
However, according to Ken Williams, CEO of the Centennial Chapter of the Red Cross, the ordinance is currently only affecting a small amount of refugees entering the Fort Collins area.
"We have 111 cases in Northern Colorado," Williams said. "But most of the people are coming to a family or support group."
Williams said the victims of Hurricane Katrina arriving in Fort Collins are those who evacuated the area before the disastrous waves hit the shore. The Red Cross provides a check based on family size, then puts them in a vacant residency, or allows them to stay with family or friends.
"The only people the ordinance may affect are those staying with friends," Williams said. "However, we've had only a few cases of those."
For those victims coming to Northern Colorado without friends or family to flee to, Williams said local landlords have been very gracious in providing free housing.
"The response from the landlord community has been very positive," Williams said.
For those victims who decide to stay in Fort Collins or in Northern Colorado, the United Way aids the evacuees in finding their new way of life.
"Once they've left the refugee status and decide where they want to live, we provide health and human services to the evacuees and all community members," said Lisa Schell, Informational and Referral Specialist for United Way.
Schell said the United Way helps the victims find work, healthcare, and become accustomed to their new residence.
"Every victim's case is so unique," Schell said. "We have to adapt."