Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Orleans - it's NOT too late to make a difference

Before Katrina: 6,000 homeless people in the city. After Katrina: 12,000, some of whom have been camping across the street from City Hall. The mayor was going to kick everyone off last week, but now it's been postponed. What wasn't postponed, unfortunately, was the bulldozing of the first of four public housing projects.

The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) had joined community activists in trying for a temporary injunction. That failed, because the judge said City Council had voted to demolish the projects four years ago. The destruction of three other projects, however, may be able to be held off indefinitely. At lest 3,000 people who used to live in public housing remain scattered throughout the country.

It's not that public housing in New Orleans before Katrina was so great; it needed and deserved renovations. The N.O. Housing Authority wants to replace the public housing projects with mixed-income, mixed use developments. Sounds great in theory, but too often is just an excuse for the displacement of poor people.

The PPEHRC National Coordinator Cheri Honkala is calling on all of us to make sure HUD knows we are watching them. We want the existing public housing projects preserved and renovated. (Actually, we want a lot more than that, but let's start here.)

Secretary Alphonso Jackson
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112 TTY: (202) 708-1455
(press #6 for employee directory)
HUD Inspector General Hotline for complaints:
TDD: (202) 708-2451

The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is a movement of organizations to which my organization, Arise for Social Justice, belongs. Four years ago we marched together in NYC at the Republican National Convention. This year, if all goes well, we'll be together again in Minneapolis, MN.

You can check out some of Cheri's day to day postings from New Orleans here.

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