Common Ground Responds to City's Attempt to Confiscate Property


Brandon Darby 504-421-1205
Daniel Williams 504-579-4098

500 Volunteers of Common Ground Relief Take Action in the Lower Ninth Ward

New Orleans, LA—On March 14 & 15th, 2007, in response to the City of New Orleans “Good Neighbor” policy, Common Ground volunteers and New Orleans residents will clean up debris and trash in the Lower Ninth Ward to prevent the City from forcefully taking private property in this neighborhood.

What: Common Ground Spring Break Clean-Up in the Lower Ninth Ward

When: March 14 and 15, 2007: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Press Availability: March 14 and 15, 2007: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Deslonde Street. Between Claiborne Avenue and Florida Avenue.

Lower Ninth Ward residents have faced tremendous obstacles in their efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent levee failures. Following the storm, a military occupation and a curfew prevented residents from returning to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward. Additionally, the City has also been painfully slow in restoring basic services to this area, such as water, electricity, and phones. Many residents view the government as standing in the way rather than helping people return home.

Now, the City of New Orleans has initiated the grossly misnamed,” Good Neighbor” Program. Thousands of residents—many of whom are elderly and disabled—are facing the possibility of having their homes taken by the City if they do not keep their lots clean and their lawns cut. “Enough is enough,” says Common Ground Director, Brandon Darby. “The so-called Good Neighbor Program is not about being neighborly. It’s about taking private property from homeowners in an unjust, unconstitutional manner.”

Over 500 volunteers and residents will work on Wednesday, March 14th, and Thursday, March 15th, to clean up trash and debris. According to Common Ground Co-founder, Malik Rahim, “Common Ground volunteers from across the country are working in solidarity with residents to demonstrate our committment to rebuilding this community. We are showing what can happen when people stand for peace and unite with residents of a community.”

Since Katrina, volunteers from different grassroots organizations have cleaned and gutted thousands of homes in the Lower Ninth Ward in an effort to enforce residents' right to return home. Common Ground alone has worked in over 600 homes in the Lower Ninth Ward. Today, most homes in this neighborhood have been gutted, but residents simply need more time to rebuild.

Common Ground is a grassroots relief organization started by residents and other activists in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. To date, Common Ground has brought over 12,000 volunteers to New Orleans, and has gutted 1,100 homes. The organization also runs two emergency housing shelters and offers educational programs for children in the greater New Orleans area.