Principles of Public Housing

My Family Album! by Craig Morse (story behind photograph)

Last Monday, January 15th, 2007, Martin Luther King Day, citizens re-entered the St. Bernard housing projects and began to gut those homes. These Priniples of Public and Affordable Housing are the work of Musa Eubanks and are making the rounds of the neighborhood organizaitons. Musa has developed this principles in collaboration with the residents of the 4th planning district.

The efforts of MLK day did not seem to bridge neighborhoods, so I’m posting these principles not only to spark an much needed discussion, but to illustrate how much we as New Orleanians care about housing, and how concerned we are about the shortage of housing and the high renets. – Alan Gutierrez

Principle: All pre-Katrina residents have the right to return to New Orleans and be able to live in affordable, sustainable, quality public and/or private rental housing in their own neighborhood regardless of race, religion, gender or level of income.

  • All public housing units that were not heavily damaged by Katrina’s winds, rain or levee break flooding should be cleaned and reopened for former residents as quickly as possible.
  • Programs must be created to provide all pre-Katrina residents of affordable rental housing the ability to return to New Orleans and continue to live in affordable housing. These programs are crucial to “right to return” and must be implemented immediately.
  • Any redevelopment of public housing, both on-site and off, should occur in a carefully-phased approach to ensure that all residents will continue to have a place to live within their neighborhoods during the redevelopment.

Principle: 100% of all pre-Katrina residents of private rental housing and 100% of residents of public housing have the right to participate as equals in the recovery planning process.

  • Extra effort should be funded to insure participation in the recovery planning process through outreach. For outreach to residents of public housing, access to the HUD/HANO database should be provided.
  • All neighborhood voices should be brought together to plan for the future of public housing and private affordable rental housing.
  • Neighborhood consensus building is key to ensuring the future of public and other affordable rental housing.
  • Strengthen existing Community Development Corporations to allow residents to have a prominent role in the development of new public and affordable housing in their neighborhoods.

Principle: Reject wholesale demolition of public housing in District 4. Retain and rehabilitate existing structurally sound public housing stock.

  • Before any demolition is allowed, documentation from engineers and architects must verify, through a transparent process, that it would be more costly to renovate than to demolish and rebuild units that are of equal or better quality than the existing ones.
  • Whenever possible, preserve the historically significant existing public housing stock.
  • All new on and off-site public and affordable rental housing construction will be built to the highest standards and be elevated to at least mean sea level. This new housing must be sustainable, using solar energy, geo-thermal and other energy efficient technologies along with the latest hurricane, termite and mold resistant building materials.
  • Provide opportunities for home-ownership of both on and off-site units such as lease-to-own apartments, grants for first-time home buyers, etc.

Principle: Build new and renovate existing public and affordable rental units for a mix of income levels and household types.

  • Develop new public and affordable rental housing on and off-site to accommodate a diverse mix of incomes and family types. This mix of income levels will include a guaranteed minimum of 40% of all units reserved for subsidized public housing, 30% affordable “workforce” rental units, and 30% home ownership and market-rate rental units.
  • Ensure high quality design for new construction through the creation of design guidelines developed and maintained by a neighborhood design review board.

Principle: Ensure for connectivity between public housing and the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Work to erase the distinctions between public housing and the surrounding neighborhood.
  • At existing public housing sites, integrate prevailing neighborhood street and pedestrian patterns and plan for on-site parking at 1 car per unit.
  • Identify financial, physical planning, human and social services and other issues, and initiate community dialogues with public housing residents and adjacent neighborhoods.
  • Develop neighborhood-focused retail and related services, where needed, to ensure walkability and ease of access by all members of the community.

Principle: Development of social service programs that enhance quality of life and ensure the success of public housing developments.

  • Provide on site or in the immediate neighborhood, health clinics and community policing substations. Investment in housing must be supported by additional investment in quality education, day/after school care, elder programs, parks, public services and other quality of life programs. Facility management and maintenance must be provided on-site.
  • Plan new public and affordable housing and adjacent neighborhoods with densities that support retail and services, parks, schools and the other elements that create viable, vibrant neighborhoods.
  • Develop public open space landscape improvement including site lighting, on-site passive and active recreation space, supportive landscape and community gardens using green principals and water conservation. Preserve and enhance existing tree canopy.

Update: This is incorrectly attributed .

It was the work of many people and started with Dr. Marshall Truehill and Goody Clancy’s and then added and edited by the District 3 and 4 Planning Team.

I attributed Musa because it came via him in email. He did stress that he wanted to share attribution. I’m sorry if that was not apparent in this post. His name is up there because it’s attached to his login, that is automatic.