Vietnamese-American Groups Receive $200,000 Grant from Freddie Mac to Help Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Lao Families Displaced by Recent Hurricanes

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Coalition helps victims break language and cultural barriers and access existing relief efforts.

Three national Vietnamese-American organizations receive a $200,000 grant from Freddie Mac in an effort to break down cultural and language barriers separating public and private hurricane relief programs from hundreds of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian families whose Gulf Coast homes and businesses were wrecked by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The three groups are the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans (NCVA), Boat People SOS, and the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies (NAVASA).

Freddie Mac’s $200,000 corporate grant will enable the three Vietnamese-American groups to provide culturally adept and language proficient staff to bridge the gap between government resources and the Asian Americans who speak little or no English and have no understanding of how to access programs available to those impacted by the hurricanes. Assistance will help nearly 1000 families find temporary shelter and to apply for federal, state, local and private aid. In order to address the rebuilding/reconstruction phase and how to address the community’s intermediate and long-term housing needs, a critical assessment of housing needs will be conducted.

“With the Asian American community’s infrastructure and resources limited throughout the Katrina storm area, many victims are relying on APIA community organizations that lack funding for an extended recovery effort,” said Congressman Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “I want to thank Freddie Mac for their leadership in providing this grant which is the first step in providing an adequate response.”

“I applaud Freddie Mac for the grant they awarded to the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans (NCVA), Boat People SOS (BPSOS), and the National Alliance of Vietnamese Americans Service Agencies (NCVA),” said Congressman Tom Davis, Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform. “I know firsthand these three highly regarded community organizations will work tirelessly to ensure this grant money helps Vietnamese Americans rebuild their homes and communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Rita.”

“The devastation from Hurricane Katrina is a great challenge for our nation,” added Congressman Jim Moran, a member on the House Committee on Appropriations. “We will rebuild the Gulf Coast and bring New Orleans back as one of this country’s most vibrant, culturally infused cities. But it will take a collective effort, one in which people of all races, creeds and ethnicities must pitch in to help. I am especially concerned about helping state and local officials house those in need and applaud Freddie Mac for moving us in the right direction.”

“By working with these three widely-respected organizations, we can provide an essential bridge between displaced Asian families and the hurricane relief efforts Freddie Mac and other organizations launched in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said Dwight Robinson, Freddie Mac’s senior vice president of corporate relations and housing outreach. “Today’s announcement further underscores Freddie Mac’s mission to foster financial stability for America’s lenders, borrowers and communities in all kinds of weather.”

Robinson added that the bi-lingual staff the three organizations can now deploy aim to place 700 Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Lao families in temporary housing in Bayou La Batre, Alabama and Biloxi, Mississippi, provide housing assistance to an estimated 250 additional families returning to New Orleans, and help the Vietnamese community assess its rebuilding needs in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“This timely grant will help us transition from emergency relief to recovery,” said Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, president of Boat People SOS, Inc. “One of our focuses in the recovery phase is temporary housing for hurricane victims. Due to language barrier, hundreds of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Lao families have not been placed into FEMA-provided trailers. They continue to live in their damaged residence under absolutely unhealthy conditions.”

“Freddie Mac has taken great measures within the past months in responding, initiating and making timely contributions in efforts to aid the Asian American survivors of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. I strongly believe that by working together Freddie Mac, Boat People S.O.S., NCVA and NAVASA will benefit thousands of displaced survivors,” Huy Vu Bui, Executive Director of NAVASA stated, “and I hope that this effort will encourage other corporations with Asian consumers and personnel to give support to our efforts.”

“The rebuilding of the devastated Gulf region requires the cooperation of government, private and public entities. Vietnamese Americans should have a role in the rebuilding of their homes and communities,” said Hung Nguyen, president and CEO of the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans. “I applaud Freddie Mac for stepping forward and making this commitment to provide needed resources to our vulnerable communities. Through their continuing proactive engagement with the community, Freddie Mac is helping to make temporary and permanent homes possible for Americans of diverse backgrounds.”

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About Boat People SOS

BPSOS is a national non-profit organization with 25 years of experience serving Vietnamese refugees and immigrants and a long track record dealing with humanitarian crises on the high sea, in refugee camps, and particularly with disaster relief and recovery in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Responding to the hurricanes Katrina and Rita, BPSOS has mobilized over 100 volunteers and staff from across the country to serve over 2,000 hurricane-affected families in Bayou La Batre, AL and Houston. http://www.bpsos.org.

About Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac is a stockholder-owned company established by Congress in 1970 to support homeownership and rental housing. Freddie Mac fulfills its mission by purchasing residential mortgages and mortgage-related securities, which it finances primarily by issuing mortgage-related securities and debt instruments in the capital markets. Over the years, Freddie Mac has made home possible for one in six homebuyers and nearly four million renters in America. http://www.freddiemac.com.

About NAVASA

Founded in 1995, NAVASA is a national membership agency currently comprised of 35 community-based and faith-based organizations. NAVASA’s mission is to improve social and economic justice in Vietnamese communities nationwide. To achieve this mission, NAVASA focuses on three key strategies: (1) Providing culturally tailored technical assistance and training; (2) Preparing a new generation of non-profit leaders; and (3) Increasing financial resources for its member organizations. http://www.navasa.org.

About NCVA

Founded in 1986, the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community advocacy organization working to advance the cause of Vietnamese Americans in a plural but united America "e pluribus unum" by participating actively and fully as civic minded citizens engaged in the areas of education, culture and civil liberties. http://www.ncvaonline.org.

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