Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Looooooong Road Home To New Orleans

I got a notice today from Color of Change asking me to support a bill intended to help poor people return to their homes in New Orleans. Many of them are African-American. Besides signing the petition in favor of the bill, I decided to post their email and its accompanying video from Brave New Films (above):

New Orleans public housing residents have been fighting for over two years to return to their homes. Many of their units were minimally damaged by the storm, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has shut them out. HUD plans to demolish most available public housing units and replace them with mixed-income housing. While there are good arguments for mixed-income housing, HUD's plan calls for far fewer total units of affordable public housing, and it completely ignores short-term housing needs. The inevitable result will be thousands of low-income residents--most of whom are Black--pushed out of the city.

S.1668 honors the right to return of all New Orleans public housing residents and takes steps to preserve affordable housing in New Orleans. It requires the re-opening of at least 3,000 public housing units and ensures that there is no net loss of units available and affordable to public housing residents. The bill quickly passed in the House earlier this year, and after thousands of ColorOfChange.org members pushed for the Senate to take action, the bill was introduced to the Senate by Senators Landrieu and Dodd. Now the bill is in danger of dying.

Last month, the Bush administration came out against the idea of reopening public housing units in New Orleans, with a HUD representative making the dubious claim that HUD "can't get people into" existing housing units because "they won't come home." Louisiana Senator David Vitter opposed the plan on the grounds that it would "re-create the New Orleans housing projects exactly as they were," which is simply not true. What no one can dispute is that the failure to provide affordable housing for low-income residents has contributed to the huge drop in the Black population in the city. Whether they'll admit it or not, opponents of S.1668 are working to reinforce this trend.

The Gulf Coast needs a housing policy that welcomes all citizens home, not just those who are wealthy, privileged, or White. The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act is the last great hope for New Orleans public housing residents who want to come home. But it won't pass if we don't fight for it. Please join Color of Change in demanding that your senators support S.1668.

8 comments:

Z said...

Done. Great post.

Another Conflict Theorist said...

Peace,

This IS a good post. Thanks for the info.

I've been arguing for over a year now that New Orlean's public administrators would be satisfied to see New Orleans become another Jamaica - beautiful tourist areas surrounded by poverty and want.

Redstar said...

I've been writing about S.1668 for a couple months now, and am working with the Gulf Coast's Equity & Inclusion Campaign, a multi-state, cross-class, multi-racial/ethnic initiative to see S. 1668 passed and an equitable and inclusive recovery happen on the GC. For more on the activism surrounding S. 1668, see:

http://www.grahamad.com/blog/index.php?s=S.+1668

and

http://www.equityandinclusion.org

Thanks for covering this!!!!

Changeseeker said...

Z: Thanks.

ACT: You're welcome.

Redstar: Thanks for the additional information and sites.

All: I recently met with one of the folks from Common Ground Relief. Their inside scoop on the process of the local government's use of eminent domain to deliver family-owned land in New Orleans to developers whose plans include casinos, condos, and "green space" (golf courses) turned my stomach. Common Ground has a multi-pronged approach to fight the power and they need all the help they can get.

Dark Daughta said...

I think that the point that is obscured in the news is what it means when people say the levees weren't cared for, that the city was summarily flooded, that its people of color and poor white communities were moved away...
That land sits next to off shore oil deposits. These are oil deposits that Bush needs. If the people remained in large numbers, healthy and whole, they would have been able to derrive great wealth from selling those oil deposits. Now, most of them aren't there, and the ones that are, are more interested in eaking out a basic survival rather than watching what the government is doing with the state's resources. Of course the government is drawing all of this out. Eventually they may give in somehow. But they have disemboweled a city. The government has free reign to allow other developers with money, corporations, wealthy whites to buy up that land cheap. These are the people who will make good green off the black gold that lies offshore. Sad. Merciless.

Changeseeker said...

dark daughta: Thanks for taking this to the next level. This situation is, indeed, a clear demonstration of the merciless nature of the corporation-driven, profit-motivated U.S. system and its proponents. Unfortunately, New Orleans is just one extremely graphic example of the type of thing that's going on all over this country and around the world. I'm incredulous and heartsick that so many either don't notice or refuse to believe it.

Dark Daughta said...

I think Douglas was right:

"find out just what people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both."

I think the people in New Orleans now exactly what time it is, but their standard of living has been so reduced that they don't have the wherewithall to fight the government's big picture. They're just trying not to kill themselves off out of depression, trying to eat, trying to get back home, trying to locate their families, trying to mourn and not let the rage consume them. Middle Passage children they are, this is not their first experience with that level of torment, it's just their most recent. Tears for them, tears for all of us. Things are so scary. I just don't know what to do.

Changeseeker said...

Amen, sister. Amen.