PHRF makes a breakthrough on price gouging and tenant rights in New Orleans

On Thursday, March 15, 2007 more than 100 members, supporters, and coalition partners of the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) and Tenants Rights Working Group (TRW) – some as far away as Houston - including Critical Resistance, Survivors Village, C3/Hands Off Iberville, Zion City Community Organization, Common Ground Collective, and the NAACP won a major concession from City Council on the question of price gouging and the lack of tenant rights in the city of New Orleans.

Rent control and tenant rights at New Orleans City Council

In the face of mounting pressure from the more than 10,000 signatures gathered on the price gouging and tenants rights petition, demonstrations outside the home of New Orleans city councilwoman Stacy Head organized by Survivors Village, and the barrage of phone calls and emails sent to the various City Council members demanding rent control, an agreement was reached in principle that the City Council and the Housing and Human Development Committee would:

  1. Develop policies to address the question of rent control in New Orleans.
  2. Work with PHRF and the TRW on this Committee to craft the necessary policies.
  3. Would challenge the State Legislature and Constitution to address the crisis of price gouging and lack of tenant rights protections.

Several other critical breakthroughs were made at the Council Meeting. The 15th action marked the first occasion since the Hurricane and Great Flood where renters and tenants spoke and acted on their own behalf and were directly included in the decision making processes of the government determining the course of the city’s reconstruction. To this point the reconstruction process has been totally dominated by developers, property owners, and designers. Another critical development was the organic connections and identifications made by private and public market renters as “tenants”. This emerging consciousness is critical for the development of the TRW, which seeks to unite public and private market renters into one powerful organization or block to win Affordable Housing and the Right of Return.

The concessions of the City Council are but the first step in the struggle to win Affordable Housing in New Orleans. PHRF and the TRW are very clear that we must continue to grow, build, and mount escalating pressure to actually win a price gouging and rent control ordinance and renter relief and restitution. We are going to need the ongoing support of all our supporters, allies, and partners to attain this victory. We are asking that everyone continue to support us in our outreach efforts to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to build the TRW, and to support our upcoming forums and mobilizations, including a critical forum on Class and Class Conflict in the Reconstruction Movement in New Orleans in April, to win this undeniable human right.

The Tenants Rights Working Group (TRW) will host its next meeting on Tuesday, March 20th at 6 pm at the offices of the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) located at 1418 N. Claiborne Ave. #2, New Orleans, LA 70116. For more information call (504) 301-0215 or email info [at] peopleshurricane [dot] org