Sunday, September 04, 2005

Housing Opportunities For Katrina Survivors

I received an email today from Vietnam War Records and AAVET asking for help in spreading the word about a web site launched listing available free housing for victims of hurricane Katrina. Please read this, visit the web site and help spread the word. Thank you.

Young Web Designers Launch New Website to Help Hurricane Katrina Victims Find Emergency Housing

Moved by the devastation and homelessness facing thousands of Americans displaced by Katrina, many people have logged online to offer shelter to hurricane survivors. Now three young Web designers have launched a new website, , to organize these housing offers in one easy-to-find place.

“There are thousands of people who need housing -- and thousands of people who want to help,” said Joel Otterstrom, the Provo, UT, web designer who launched the site. “ will allow those people to find one another.”

Before , few options existed for people who wanted to offer temporary housing to refugees. Craig’s List, the popular Internet site used around the world for finding homes, jobs, dates and miscellaneous merchandise, had posted thousands of offers on its pages. But no way existed for people to sort through the online postings to find the offers that specifically met their needs.

Otterstrom’s site addresses that problem. On , people offering housing provide their zip codes, the number of people they can accommodate, how long space is available, and whether pets, smokers or children are allowed. Refugees can then zero in quickly on the factors that interest them. Like Craig’s List, is dedicated to helping people connect with one another and does not verify the information posted.

The site was started by 29-year-old Otterstrom and his Web design business partners – Eran Greenberg , 30, and John Peterson, 31. While watching news of the hurricane’s devastation, Otterstrom desperately wanted to help the people in the Gulf Coast. His sister suggested that he look at Craig’s List, where people were offering temporary housing. Recognizing that Craig’s List was not designed to organize this type of information, Otterstrom decided to create a site that could.

By 1 a.m. Wednesday, Otterstrom and his partners had purchased a domain name and built . Craig’s List and, another website that had been taking information, are working together to consolidate their lists on’s site.

Unfortunately, many people in need of housing are not aware of what’s available to them. “The Red Cross and other agencies are so overwhelmed, they’re not able to get these lists out there, even to people who have already left New Orleans,” Otterstrom says.

He hopes that volunteers will print the Web site’s list of housing offers and distribute them to shelters. He wants everyone who wishes to accommodate refugees in their homes to know they can do so at .

Eran Greenberg (
(office) 801.373.1299, (home) 801.377.0733

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