ACORN members Protest Plan to Shut Out New Orleans Neighborhoods

After members of the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association discovered that the Urban Land Institute’s plan to rebuild New Orleans called for redevelopment focused on downtown and a few other selected parts of the city and would push many ACORN members out, leaving their neighborhoods to die, they turned up to object everywhere the Bring New Orleans Back Commission held town hall meetings about ULI’s plan. In Houston, over 50 ACORN members rallied and held a press conference before the December 10th town hall meeting. They also testified at the hearing, just as ACORN Survivors in Memphis, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Dallas held press conferences and testified at the Commission’s hearings, demanding a plan that would rebuild their communities and give survivors a voice in the process.

“The mayor and his commission are proposing to shut us out,” said ACORN member, Katie Neason, who was present at the Dallas town hall on December 6th. “They want to send resources downtown and to the historic district, leaving none for the 3-tier communities.” On the map of ULI's three rebuilding zones, New Orleans East, Gentilly, and parts of the Lower 9th Ward and Carrollton/Hollygrove – are in the “3rd tier” of places to be developed later – probably much later. “Their plan is totally undemocratic,” she continued. “First, they put out this proposal that has nothing to do with what people from New Orleans want. And then they propose that all the major decisions about our city going forward should be made by an unelected special board. Its like they think they can rebuild New Orleans without the people of New Orleans.”

ACORN Katrina Survivor, Kemberly Samuels, a 9th Ward homeowner spoke at the Houston hearing, which was covered by the Houston Chronicle. "It looks like the city's elite are trying to forge plans that leave us last or, worse, leave us out altogether," Samuels said. If this plan is followed, money and attention will go first to the places that are in the priority areas – even though they are wealthier – and not to the city’s low- and moderate- income neighborhoods. Without help, people in these neighborhoods will not have the means to come back.

ACORN Katrina survivors will continue to take action and fight for a place in the rebuilding plan and the chance to create better neighborhoods, more affordable housing, and better flood protection.