… And $400,000 Apartments For The Holidays.
Published on Countercurrents.org, by Bill Quigley, 03 December, 2007.
On the 12th day before Christmas, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is planning to unleash teams of bulldozers to demolish thousands of low-income apartments in New Orleans. Despite Katrina causing the worst affordable housing crisis since the Civil War, HUD is spending $762 million in taxpayer funds to tear down over 4600 public housing subsidized apartments and replace them with 744 similarly subsidized units – an 82% reduction. HUD is in charge and a one person HUD employee makes all the local housing authority decisions. HUD took over the local housing authority years ago – all decisions are made in Washington DC. HUD plans to build an additional 1000 market rate and tax credit units – which will still result in a net loss of 2700 apartments to New Orleans – the remaining new apartments will cost an average cost of over $400,000 each!
Affordable housing is at a critical point along the Gulf Coast. Over 50,000 families still living in tiny FEMA trailers are being systematically forced out. Over 90,000 homeowners in Louisiana are still waiting to receive federal recovery funds from the Road Home. In New Orleans, hundreds of the estimated 12,000 homeless have taken up residence in small tents across the street from City Hall and under the I-10.
In Mississippi, poor and working people are being displaced along the coast to allow casinos to expand and develop shipping and other commercial activities. Two dozen ministers criticized the exclusion of renters and low-income homeowners from post-Katrina assistance: “Sadly we must now bear witness to the reality that our Recovery Effort has failed to include a place at the table … for our poor and vulnerable.”
The bulldozers have not torn down any buildings yet and New Orleans public housing residents vow to resist. “If you try to bulldoze our homes, we’re going to fight,” promised resident Sharon Jasper.
“There’s going to be a war in New Orleans.” (full text).