NOLA Housing Update Dec 2007

Bill Quigley
Date Published: 
December 11, 2007
Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), totally controlled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is trying to demolish 4500 public housing apartments.  Residents and affordable housing advocates are resisting.

Demolition update
           On 12-10-07, with over a hundred protestors cheering, the City of New Orleans historic district denied the demolition application of the housing authority for the Lafitte housing development.  Sadly, they approved the rest of the applications before them.
           So Lafitte, home to 850 families, cannot be demolished now.  Other strategies are in the works to save the rest of the developments.
           The housing authority promised to appeal the denial of the demolition of Lafitte.  No date or time for that appeal is known at this time.  Rumors are flying that the City of New Orleans is preparing to surrender without a fight and say that they do not have the legal authority to stop demolition.
           Despite the ruling that Lafitte cannot be demolished, HANO workers and contractors showed up there this afternoon removing doors and windows!  Residents and supporters called the media and they showed up to document the fiasco.  As night fell, the workers left and the apartments were left open for vandals.  Supporters called on HANO to protect the apartments and promised to set up their own security if HANO did not.

Actions taken:
           On Sunday, residents and supporters marched in Santa hats to Mayor Nagin’s house and poured coal on his lawn.
           On Monday, over a hundred people, attended a city demolition agency meeting.  There were so many people the meeting was moved to a larger room.
           Tuesday, residents and supporters converged at Lafitte when HANO and contractors started taking off doors and windows despite the denial of the demolition permit.

Louisiana Episcopal Bishop Asks for Halt of Demolitions
           Bishop Charles Jenkins, head of the Episcopal Church in Louisiana, has come out publicly against the demolitions.  See his statement to the City Council:
           The Bishop prayed in front of City Hall with residents and supporters as the group marched in on Monday 12-10-07.

[Former] Presidential candidate [John Edwards] opposes demolition:
Today, John Edwards announced his opposition to demolition in New Orleans:

           The federal class action on behalf of all residents is before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal on the residents’ request for an injunction stopping the demolition.
           A new federal suit was filed today in Washington DC by the residents of St. Bernard development.  They have partnered with the AFL-CIO Housing Trust and proposed a plan for St. Bernard that would guarantee that every person there when Katrina hit can come back to the same type of subsidized unit.  That suit seeks an injunction.
           The Louisiana Attorney General has been asked to intervene to stop the demolitions because HANO gave out over $20 million to demolish without complying with public bid laws.

           A poster was circulated in New Orleans on 12.10.07 that said:
“For every public housing unit destroyed a condo will be destroyed.”
           It showed a picture of a burning building.
See for cc of the poster.  You can also see hundreds of the most racist violent posts you can imagine.
           Tracie Washington, advocate for the residents, said, “These posters are a diversion tactic and were probably put up by those who want to demolish public housing!”

Over 50 Organizations oppose demolition
           The following groups have gone on record to oppose demolition.
Endorsements for Goals of Coalition to Stop the Demolition
  1. No Demolition until 1:1 replacement is guaranteed
  2. Resident participation in any redevelopment planning

Organizational Endorsements
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
Agenda for Children
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of New Orleans
Amnesty International USA
Anti Racism Working Group
Ashe Cultural Arts Center
Center for Empowered Decision Making
Central City Partnership
Christian Unity Baptist Church
Churches Supporting Churches
Common Ground Health Clinic
Critical Resistance New Orleans
C3 Hands Off Iberville
Ebenezer Baptist Church
European Dissent
Faith in Action Evangelistic Team
Faith Temple Church of God the Holy Ghost Center, New Orleans
First United Baptist Church
FYRE Youth Squad
Gert Town Revival Initiative, Inc.,
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center
INCITE! New Orleans
Left Turn Magazine
Louisiana Justice Institute
Louisiana Unity Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Mennonite Central Committee—New Orleans
Mennonite Disaster Service
Millions More Movement
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Trust for Historic Preservation
New Orleans Interfaith Worker Justice
New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival
New Orleans Women's Health & Justice Initiative
New Orleans Women's Health Clinic
New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice
Pax Christi—New Orleans
Peoples’ Hurricane Relief Fund
People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond
The Praxis Project
The Renaissance Project
Restaurant Opportunities Center
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Total Community Action Faith Collaborative
Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice
United Teachers of New Orleans
Youth Inspirational Connection, Inc,
Youth Media Council