During the worst housing crisis in New Orleans history, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is pushing a deeply flawed plan to demolish thousands of units of affordable housing, with plans to rebuild only a fraction. If HUD gets its way, the majority of affordable public housing in the city will be eliminated--essentially shutting out thousands of low-income Katrina survivors who have been fighting for over 2 years to return home.
Tomorrow, the New Orleans City Council will vote on whether or not to permit HUD to carry out its demolitions, and several council members are on the fence. We need to show the city council that people across the country want our federal government to do better than HUD's plan, and that we want the council to vote against it.
I joined ColorOfChange.org in calling on the city council to vote against these reckless and premature demolitions and insist on a fair redevelopment plan. I also sent a message to President Bush, calling on him to stop HUD from carrying out its plan. Will you join me?
New Orleans Housing Crisis
With New Orleans in the middle of a serious housing emergency, it just doesn't make sense to destroy affordable housing that's in good condition. Rents have gone up 45% since Katrina, the city has already lost 9,000 units of affordable housing, and half of the families that want to return home make less than $20,000 a year. In the last two years, New Orleans' homeless population has more than doubled. Many of the units HUD plans on destroying are in very well-constructed buildings that were barely damaged by Katrina and would require a minimum of renovation to provide quality housing, even if only temporarily.
HUD's flawed redevelopment plan
Whatever your views are on public housing, HUD's redevelopment plan is ill-conceived and irresponsible. HUD refuses to rebuild the same number of affordable public housing units as it destroys. HUD's plan would destroy 4,600 affordable public housing units, while the new mixed-income housing would only include 744 units of affordable housing--and building those units will take several years. The inevitable result will be thousands of low-income residents--most of whom are Black--pushed out of the city.
Questions have also been raised about the motivations behind HUD's plan. The head of HUD, Alphonso Jackson, and his staff are under criminal investigation for corruption in HUD/HANO's process for handing out contracts related to the redevelopment plan. The contract for demolishing and rebuilding the St. Bernard housing project was given to a firm that owes Jackson at least $250,000 (and as much as $500,000).
No Demolition without a solution that makes sense
At best, HUD has a goal that many think is good (moving towards mixed-income housing), but a deeply flawed plan that will be disastrous to New Orleans residents who need the most help. At worst, HUD is pushing a plan that will help enrich its secretary and his cronies, while leaving working-class people out in the cold and dramatically reshaping the class makeup of New Orleans. Either way, it would be a huge mistake to let HUD push forward with demolitions until these issues are addressed and resolved.
Will you join me in calling on the city council to reject the plan, and on President Bush to stop HUD from proceeding?