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New Orleans PSA

From colorofchange.org:

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?



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 22nd, 2007 12:52 pm (UTC)
I have mixed feelings towards this. I think that less people should live in New Orleans unless we get something better from the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the city. Refurbishing public housing in areas prone to flooding is not in the interest of the taxpayer.

On the other hand, you want people to have a place to live.
Dec. 22nd, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC)
the thing is, the HUD proposal isn't any better in terms of making New Orleans safer for its residents. it's a bonanza proposal for developers to make lots of money by destroying public housing and building more expensive homes for people with more money who are still going to be living in a flood zone.

with this administration, there's not going to be any federal money for actually building a better levee system or whatever needs to be done to prevent the same disaster from recurring. they are interested only in short-term profits. after all, jesus is coming back soon--better make money quickly so we can buy more hummers to drive on those streets of gold!

until we get the politicians to get over their phobia of public spending, it seems to me that we should at least house those who want to come back home, rich or poor. even the opponents of the HUD proposal acknowledge that currently standing buildings may be only temporary solutions to the housing crisis there. demolishing them in order to lure in the well-to-do is a greater waste of resources than letting poorer families move in to what's already built. I think it is safe to say that the only things driving this proposal are greed and classism. if you asked Bush what would happen to the rich if New Orleans flooded again, he'd just say that insurance would pay for even better houses! he really doesn't seem to get basic economics, and the people running him seem only in it for short-term gain at the expense of who-gives-a-damn.
Dec. 22nd, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)
It's not a phobia of public spending. It's more like spending it all on your friends and no one else. They have spent us into a huge deficit, run the printing presses to create money, and held no one accountable for what happened with the money.
Dec. 22nd, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
well yes that's true. when I think of "public spending" I'm usually thinking more about social programs than military or corporate ones. I do think that there is a fear of looking too soft on social issues that runs through the democratic party though--I was commenting on congress as much as the administration. nobody seems to have the ovaries to stand up and stop the money hemorrhaging from the public sector to the military and private sectors, even though ostensibly we elected a democratic congress partially to do just that.
Dec. 22nd, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
It is gross how much money gets spent on lining the pockets of friends & contributors, in all forms of government.

I agree that what New Orleans needs is a better plan from civil engineering and for affordable housing to be built in safer areas.

I support demolitions that would restore natural areas (wetlands that absorb water & naturally prevent disastrous flooding) only so long as the housing destroyed is replaced with more appropriately located commensurate housing.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 23rd, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
I was reading through friends of fortysomething and saw your post. There is plenty of available housing, in fact there are units standing and ready to be occupied. The protesters want their old housing the way it used to be but New Orleans itself isn't what it used to be.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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