United Way Hopes Poor Seen in New Light

Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss. - The neglect of the nation's poor that has become so evident in New Orleans is happening in other major cities as well, the head of the United Way said Wednesday.

"This is a wake-up call for America," said Brian Gallagher, president and chief executive officer of United Way of America, which has taken a lead role in resettling tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Gallagher and other leaders of charitable groups met with President Bush on Tuesday to plead for a long-term solution.

Gallagher said he told Bush a commitment to spend billions of dollars on flood walls, hotels and casinos must be met with billions more spent on human infrastructure such as mixed-income housing, community policing, green space and other needs.

"It would be a moral mistake to rebuild certain neighborhoods back the way they were, and economically it would be a mistake," Gallagher said.

"While New Orleans poverty numbers are extreme, they are not vastly different than the majority of major cities in America," he said.

Gallagher said Bush told the group the hurricane-damaged area would get long-term attention, not just a Band-Aid response.

United Way, the nation's largest privately funded nonprofit with $4 billion in annual fundraising, has received as much as $20 million in new donations since the hurricane hit, Gallagher said.