In the Sept. 16 Metro article "Housing Expedited for Storm Survivors," a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development appealed for patience and understanding from D.C. residents who had been passed over in their wait for public housing to make room for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

While the desire to help hurricane victims is admirable, the lack of sensitivity and awareness suggested by HUD's request and the disparity between the treatment of hurricane victims and those who are homeless in our own community is unacceptable.

Those being asked to be patient include 8,400 families on the District's waiting list for public housing and more than 300 families on the waiting list for emergency shelter. A Sept. 13 Metro story reported that in 2004, nearly 12,000 units of affordable housing in the city were lost to gentrification and other policy decisions.

As executive director of Project Northstar, I work to provide tutoring and mentoring to children affected by homelessness. Our volunteers and staff see firsthand the devastating effects of homelessness on children.

Parents of children who are homeless -- be they victims of a hurricane or victims of poverty and failed public policy -- must be given the same basic resources for averting the destruction of their children's future.