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N.O. fracas over plans to raze housing

NEW ORLEANS - Protesters angry about the pending demolition of more than 4,000 public housing units stormed a City Council meeting Thursday in a confrontation that ended with a prominent civil rights lawyer being hauled off in handcuffs...

"We live in a system where if you cheer or chant in the City Council you get arrested, but you can demolish 4,500 people's apartments and everybody's supposed to go along with that? That's not going to happen," Quigley said.

"There's going to be a lot more disturbing the peace before this is all over, I'm afraid."

Follow me below the fold for the real story on the ground including video of Maxine Waters in New Orleans on the second anniversary of Katrina.  

When I went down there to do some video blogging on the second anniversary of Katrina I attended a public grassroots meeting of the New Orleans Survivor Council Bring Our People Back Festival in Gentilly. Public housing and access to it were the issues of the day. US Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) showed up to hear concerns and deliver some detailed and explosive remarks to the crowd.

New Orleans has always been a poor city, but it never had the same kind of homelessness that we frequently see in other urban areas because rents were so cheap, but today in New Orleans affordable, safe and sanitary housing is not available in the same way. It's almost non-existent. Although many people and families have moved on with their lives in a new town, many more still want back, but they can't afford to come back. It's as simple as that. The public housing story is one element of the predicament that most New Orleanians out in the neighborhoods face today. Still.

These are some of the issues facing the forgotten citizens of New Orleans today:

  • Former residents of public housing, now living in the Katrina Diaspora, demand a right of return to those units they left when Katrina hit.
  • Thousands of units in public housing in the city remain shuttered. Some of these vast projects were not damaged by the flood.
  • The city is selling the vacant properties to private developers, one is building a Wal-Mart and another plans a golf course, with only the promise of future units to be built.
  • Citizens demand that units be rehabbed and opened up to anyone trying to return that can qualify for a rent subsidy in today's rental market.
  • Advocates believe that adding a few thousand units of this new public housing inventory will drive down rent prices in the area for all New Orleanians.
  • Advocates of right of return and public housing are taking action in New Orleans today.

Do you support the right of return for the people of New Orleans?

If the answer is yes, you can take action and contact your Senators, both of them, to voice support for the right to return and ask your senators to support Senate Bill
S. 1668: Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007.

Maxine Waters gave some remarks at the meeting and her full vlog can be seen here: Maxine Waters: "I will publicly denounce him".

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usVideo: Maxine Waters in New Orleans (4:50)

I came over to be with you today on the second anniversary of Katrina number one to let you know that no matter how bad this stuff is that you've got some people with you that are going to stay in this fight until we get you back home.

I believe ... that there is no advocacy in this city for poor people and that the elected officials have let you down. I believe that.

I believe that HUD saw Katrina as an opportunity to dismantle and tear down all of the public housing. When they evacuated people from here and sent folks over to Houston and Atlanta and Dallas and places they had no intentions of bringing you back. And they said to some people, "well we're going to redevelop these units and we'll get you back in five or six years," but nobody trusts HANO, nobody trusts HUD... so people are stuck and stranded ...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAnd we have a secretary of HUD, Mr [Alfonso] Jackson who has lied to us. Jackson said that they would have 2500 units ready by the end of August and another 500 by October... We put that in legislation, HR 1227 ... we passed it off the floor and it's been languishing over on the Senate side since March.

That's where [S1668] the 3000 units were documented, the right for return, if there is ever development then one on one replacement, relocation rights documented and an extension of folks who were on those temporary disaster vouchers up until January. All of that is in that legislation sitting over on the Senate side. Meanwhile, I thought that we could negotiate with Mr. Jackson even if the legislation was moving slowly. I got the commitments from him, but we have been lied to...


And when people are lied to, frustrated and obstructed then they get mad. And they get arrested.

The residents and activists in public housing on the ground in NOLA have been working tirelessly to restore some kind of affordable housing to the city for more than 2 years now. They were successful in getting some of these units opened back up and some of these residents back home, but on Dec. 15 the demolitions will begin transforming thousands of units into Wal-Marts and golf courses with no plans to redevelop under the new HOPE VI model.

Part 2 of Rep. Waters can be seen here.

Bill Quigley, featured in the story is a civil rights lawyer in New Orleans, he and the Advancement Project are suing HUD and HANO, housing authority of New Orleans, to restore some units and some fairness in the process.

(New Orleans, Louisiana June 27, 2006)— Today, a lawsuit was filed by Advancement Project, Bill Quigley, Tracie Washington and the law firm of Jenner & Block, LLP against U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) on behalf of public housing residents in United States District Court in New Orleans. The lawsuit seeks to bring families back to New Orleans as soon as possible.

"HUD plans to keep low-income Black families out of New Orleans," said Judith Browne, co-director, Advancement Project, a national civil rights and racial justice organization. "These families have a right to return and a right to be consulted about the future of public housing. HUD and HANO’s plan discriminates against Black residents by excluding them with no clear plan of when, how and if they will be able to return."

Most of New Orleans displaced residents cannot return because of a shortage of housing due to a loss of approximately half of all rental housing and an increase in demand; since the storm, rental rates have increased 25-30% in New Orleans. Despite this massive shortage of housing, particularly affordable housing, HANO has taken virtually no steps to repair housing units that could bring back many of the 5,146 displaced, predominantly African-American families that resided in public housing pre-Katrina. Instead of moving quickly to re-open habitable units and make repairs where necessary, HANO has boarded up units. Only 880 families have been permitted to return to public housing. Most recently, HUD made clear that most families would not be able to return anytime soon when it announced its plan to demolish 5,000 public housing units.

So you can decide whether they're fighting for some justice or barring HUD from bringing the "public housing estates into the modern era." Bill Quigley is a professor of Law at Loyola University. He is a featured guest of Amy Goodman on the Democracy Now podcast. In June of 2006 they talked specifically about the public housing issue, the right of return and the city's ongoing efforts to bar the return of the poor to their homes in New Orleans. Bill Quigley also writes for truthout.org and wrote extensively from the ground in New Orleans during Katrina; his wife is an oncology nurse and they both chose to stay and work during the storm. Professor Quigley's most recent piece on New Orleans can be seen at the smirkingchimp.com: The Ten Most Important Lessons Learned.

Recently a NOLA Judge sided with HUD lawyers who argued that

Judge won't hold up public housing razing

"Plaintiffs have no legal right to return to the particular public housing units they occupied on Aug. 29, 2005, because they have no property interest in those particular units," wrote attorney Lesley Farby on behalf of HUD in a recent court motion.

Quigley is also quoted in the article as the lawyers for the residents

Quigley said HANO's plans for "improved" public housing are deceptive, and that they will "permanently displace thousands of long-term New Orleanians from their community and erase nearly 70 years of New Orleans culture and history."

Do you support the Right of Return for all New Orleanians?

Originally posted to mbair on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:18 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the wrong people are being arrested. (12+ / 0-)

    there are several that need to be in handcuffs and they are not in NOLA. They are at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The outrage of Katrina continues and continues.

    The Natives are Restless

    by MantisOahu on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:24:49 AM PST

  •  On NOLA public housing in general (9+ / 0-)

    I got a comment on one of these NOLA/public housing vlogs that I wrote from a very knowledgeable kossack. She was torn. She liked the diary I wrote, but pointed out that she hated these public housing complexes in the city. And I'm torn to about advocating for a system that may not have served the public good overall.

    But the situation in NOLA today is very different from an ordinary city facing entrenched poverty as we all do. Today these public housing units, many of which never flooded before the storm, can and should be used as a means to increase the affordable housing inventory and act as a stepping stone for former residents and others alike that need a clean, safe unit to return to in the city.

    If the city has a plan to increase the inventory of housing for returnees that doesn't include these projects then fine, but there is no rent control in NOLA today and no plan to help residents get back to the city the still call home.

    •  NOLA is not NO until these (6+ / 0-)

      people come home.  They are the lifeblood of the City. They have History there. They are the History.

      "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

      by Owllwoman on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:44:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know (9+ / 0-)

        I never got that before I went down there. The people in the city have a unique appreciation for their history and culture that really cannot be appreciated until you experience it. I ended my spate of "guerrilla vlogging" with an interview with Thaddeus the bellman at the hotel I stayed in. He's a young guy that has been working at the hotel for about four years and he came home for the second Mardis Gras.

        So I'm standing on Toulouse, we do the interview and then I had a few words with him before I went to the airport. he starts talking to me about Tennessee Williams and Bienville, the founder, and all this amazing stuff. He reads histories like they're going out of style because his passion for the past was nurtured everyday of his life growing up in New Orleans. I should never turn the camera off. Some of these people that I interview are just getting started when I get to the end of the conversation.

        Thaddeus is a high school dropout.

        Thaddeus is homeless although he works a full time job in the quarter for an employer that he loves.

        It's so horrible and it's such a colossal mess.

    •  I've never heard a good thing about that housing (0+ / 2-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      Nightprowlkitty, chigh

      It's dangerous and nasty.  

      •  I've never read (5+ / 0-)

        a good comment from you about most anything. But I'm really glad you stopped by.

        Here's the skinny on BO, readers. You can check some of the other NOLA diaries for offensive comments but BO rec'ing this comment on an unrelated diary is the ultimate:

        Illegal Immigration IS Illegal (1+ / 3-)

        Recommended by:
           burrow owl
        Trollrated by:
           Nightprowlkitty, Pete Rock, Sentido

        ...These are the pictures that you never see:

              2. The drunk men leering at me when they are not asleep along the footpath adjacent to the rail line where I walk my dog. They leave their anatomical shit, broken bottles, dirty papers, old mattresses and so much litter that the railroad tracks near my home look like the dump!

              3. The long wait at the local post office when the illegal mexican workers line up to send their wages back to Mexico--overall I think this amounts to more than ll billion.

              4. The drunk drivers and the unlicensed drivers who now flood our roads.

              5. The scores of men who loiter at the local Von's parking lot who will not work for less than $10 an hour. The wages "Americans" earn at Walmart and other minimum wage places are a joke to them.

           6)The illegal mexican man who ran a stop sign and laughed as my car stalled as I screeched to a halt to avoid an accident.

           7)The mexican drug pushers who spoke no english who were  arrested in the house down the block to the right of us and also about 2 blocks  to the left.

           8)The special alarm systems people have put on their cars to stop the rampant car theft by illegal mexican gangs.

              9. The children of illegal immigrants flooding the local schools, driving up the number of kids per classroom until the idea of education as I knew it is at best a distant memory.

        I feel so strongly about how wrong and broken this is that I would go and stand on the border...

        by linfar on Fri Oct 05, 2007 at 04:33:09 PM EST

        See ya round BO.

        •  So does that make his contention (0+ / 0-)

          that the public housing units in question are substandard untrue?

          Let's look at this from another perspective:

          Suppose these units slated for demolition are in fact substandard (deteriorating from no maintenance, faulty wiring, etc.) but the city government "encouraged" residents to live in these units. What sort of public outcry would there be if people were injured or killed living in a unit known to be substandard?

          Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat

          by jqmilktoast on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:12:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  let's look at this from another (5+ / 0-)

            perspective and you can read the full diary because it's on the rec list: NOLA: From the Overpass to the Underpass

            Tent cities have grown up all over the city in a place that had a lot of poverty but not a lot of homelessness before the storm. There is or was a tent city right across from City Hall when I visited in August. I talked to someone that works at the hotel. he prefers sleeping under a bridge to the only "rat-infested, crime-ridden" holes he can afford.

            Suppose these units slated for demolition are in fact substandard (deteriorating from no maintenance, faulty wiring, etc.) but the city government "encouraged" residents to live in these units. What sort of public outcry would there be if people were injured or killed living in a unit known to be substandard?

            I think you've just described current living conditions for anyone living in a FEMA trailer. The trailers are emitting formaldehyde and causing people to get really sick, but while they wait, still waiting more than 2 years later, while they wait for a check from Road Home or an insurance company that is reneging on their policy they are getting sick.

            Furthermore, at this point these units are substandard. There's no question about that. But they are structurally sound. Most of the wooden shotguns in the flooded areas are not. Rehab of the public housing units is one tool in getting the city back. But as Waters explicitly states:

            I believe that HUD saw Katrina as an opportunity to dismantle and tear down all of the public housing. When they evacuated people from here and sent folks over to Houston and Atlanta and Dallas and places they had no intentions of bringing you back. And they said to some people, "well we're going to redevelop these units and we'll get you back in five or six years," but nobody trusts HANO, nobody trusts HUD... so people are stuck and stranded ...

            And nobody has fewer advocates in this country than "the poor." Quigley is a voice for justice, either you see it that way or you don't.

            peace.

            •  So how do you encourage (0+ / 0-)

              New housing to be built? Where do you propose building it? How is all this ultimately determined?

              Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat

              by jqmilktoast on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:56:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                chigh

                I think that we're confusing the situation here. Local government doesn't need to "encourage" the private businesses to do anything. The Federal government appropriated the money. It's not like a normal situation where you have to deal with normal functioning markets that dynamically balance stuff like supply - demand or wages - cost. I can tell you for sure that wages have skyrocketed in the city especially for low end service jobs, but the employees still can't afford the new rents. It's totally counter intuitive, but it's the truth.  

                The market is totally dysfunctional and the federal government, believe it or not, is doing a lot to  drive up the rents for subsidized housing itself.

                Keeping up is costing more

                Some attribute the rise in part to the federal government's willingness to subsidize low-income housing. Benjamin Diggins owns nine rental properties in New Orleans, four of which he bought after the storm. In 2005, he said, the federal government was paying him around $625 a month to house a low-income family in a two-bedroom apartment. After the storm, that subsidy almost doubled, to $1,128.

                "I'd be dumb not to take it," Diggins said.

                As a result of more generous federal subsidies, along with an increase in his property taxes, Diggins decided to increase the rent he charges on his other, non-subsidized properties. He said he recently kicked up rent on a private-market two-bedroom apartment to $900, about a $200 increase from before the storm.

                Check out the other NOSC public housing diaries that I wrote for the NOLA Speaks series if this subject is of interest to you.
                Maxine Waters: "I will publicly denounce him"
                NOLA Speaks: Meet Julie, Geneva and Gilda.
                NOLA: Thousands Homeless Monday Morning.

                •  If I'm reading you correctly (0+ / 0-)

                  then subsidies are helping to drive the cost of housing up?

                  Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat

                  by jqmilktoast on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:54:08 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think it's if (0+ / 0-)

                    you're reading the article correctly, but yeah. it's just like Waters says here, "I believe that HUD saw Katrina as an opportunity to dismantle and tear down all of the public housing. When they evacuated people from here and sent folks over to Houston and Atlanta and Dallas and places they had no intentions of bringing you back. And they said to some people, 'well we're going to redevelop these units and we'll get you back in five or six years,'"

                    But the money is coming out of the woodwork for private business? Why?

          •  No, not substandard. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mbair, chigh

            In some instances the houses did better than most and were undamaged after the storm.  HUD was even caught lying about the condition of the houses when impartial scientists were brought in to check for mold, etc.

            Folks were not allowed in regardless of the conditions of their homes.

            This is an opportunity for fat cats to take good land and use it to benefit the rich.

            At a meeting over this demolition issue, it was said over and over again that no one had any objection to real redevelopment as an opportunity to make the housing in this area even better.

            But that is not what happened.  Private interests made the decisions and it was presented as a done deal.

            So no, substandard conditions had nothing to do with this decision.

            •  K... (0+ / 0-)

              At a meeting over this demolition issue, it was said over and over again that no one had any objection to real redevelopment as an opportunity to make the housing in this area even better.

              But that is not what happened.  Private interests made the decisions and it was presented as a done deal.

              How exactly do you propose to decide on what gets redeveloped and what does not?

              Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat

              by jqmilktoast on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 09:54:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mbair, chigh

                ... it would certainly help to have both residents and community leaders in on the process -- which is NOT what happened.

                The end result of what is happening now will be private contractors making a shitload of money off the backs of poor folks -- making promises to provide "mixed" housing which will never be fulfilled.

          •  Substandard Buildings (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mbair

            Prior public housing that were knocked down by Katrina were replaced with vinyl, chipwood and mold growing effus.  Needless to say, they did not survive Katrina winds much less flooding.  You see if buildings that are constructed with cement, plaster, tile, stone, real wood are flooded - they can be refurbished.  

      •  Why should anyone care ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mbair, doctorj2u, chigh

        ... what a mean-spirited nasty POS like you thinks about anything at all?

        Have a donut for smearing a whole lot of good folks who have been through more than enough without your bullshit adding to their pain.

    •  Check Out Hope VI... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair, Over the Edge, Nightprowlkitty

      an old, drug-infested public housing project here in Phoenix was transformed under Hope VI into a beautiful, useful, multi-income residential development that attracts people instead of repelling them.  Accomplished thru a public-private partnership w/some very enlightened developers, this oasis has become a magnet for humane new development.

      Of course, the Bushies killed the program--it was far too successful.  Could be revived under a Dem administration.

      •  HOPE VI (4+ / 0-)

        sounds great to me and the city is proposing new developments under it, but like Maxine Waters said to the crowd that day, not quoted here in this vlog:

        And I want you, my main reason for being here today is to say: Don't give up. Don't let them kill your spirit. I cannot tell you to break the law and I'm not going to do that, but I want you to know that an inspired people, people who believe in self determination, are going to do what their gut and their hearts tell them to do in order to get some justice and some fairness and some equality.  

        We understand that there are a lot of people who have sold the members of Congress a bill of goods about wanting to make your lives better by redoing and tearing down these units to rebuild them. But they can not guarantee the right for return. They can not guarantee when these units will be rebuilt.

        All that we want right now is: rehab of units; open them up; let people come back in and if you want to do redevelopment you can do phased redevelopment.

        •  I'm W/U.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mbair

          as a necessary transition and shelter for returnees.  In the long run, tho, these old projects haven't served their residents well.

          •  I agree (4+ / 0-)

            In the long run, tho, these old projects haven't served their residents well.

            But I met a few people that really want back: NOLA Speaks: Meet Julie, Geneva and Gilda.

            It's not easy not being home. It's lonesome. Some days I'm okay ... other days I whine and cry because I miss home. It's not just, I miss my community. The St. Bernard development was more than a home to me.

            It was, it was a part of me. Me. Gilda. I don't know how to put that into words.

            video source: Gilda Burbank, August 28, 2007.

            Furthermore, Miss Gilda up there is now living in Houston and needs to go to the food pantry to eat. She was featured in an article written up by blksista here:

            40% of Katrina evacuees live below poverty level; plus update on Army Corps-MWI pump contract

            Gilda Burbank fled with three grandchildren to Houston, where she has struggled to find work and sleeps on an air mattress in a government-subsidized apartment. "I was poor before Katrina, but I had food on the table, we went to Mass, we had clothes," she says. "Now we're poor poor. We're worse off."

            One explanation, Baylor says, is that Texas employers were reluctant to hire people displaced by Katrina for fear they would soon go back to New Orleans.

            So for Bechtel, Halliburton, Shaw and the rest? Billions in government contracts and no questions asked. For Gilda? An air mattress and directions to the food pantry. That's not cool and those dollars are our tax dollars.

          •  Just parking this here (3+ / 0-)

            for no particular reason, just for ant readers.

            Gilda talked to me after the NOSC BBQ that day, too:

    •  Public Housing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair

      Most of these buildings were built under the WPA and did not flood or if they did, the construction material did not allow growth of mold.  Why not refurbish and offer to the working poor?  Even the police, fire, teachers, garbage, hotel workers cannot afford the rents.  You put the working underbelly of the city in these buildings and they will be able to get to work without a car.  NOLA is a walking, biking, bus or trolley city.

      •  I can't get to a place (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chigh

        of understanding from any level on this story at all. And you're exactly right, it's not just people that are really poor, technically poor with few job skills. The whole middle-class is in a body bind and it's retarding the recovery.

  •  Mind-boggling (4+ / 0-)

    Everything this administration does is mind-boggling. In fact, I think that's their main objective.

    •  Ya know (6+ / 0-)

      I don't know if it's the natural aging process or what, but the longer these criminals remain in office the stupider I get. I can't understand most any of this and I can think real devious-like. It doesn't make sense from any standpoint.

      The worst part? Nobody knows unless they live down there or they actively seek out the news on the net. I live in MA and most people I talk to have no idea what's up down there. No clue.

      •  If our media presented the truth (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mbair, doctorj2u

        and the people reacted with conscience, our whole way of life would be changed. That wouldn't be good for the exploiter class. Their comfort is based on our ignorance.

        •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, Over the Edge, doctorj2u

          if any of this had to be done in the light of day in the forum of public opinion then it would never happen. Never.

          I talked to Margie at a vigil in NOLA East about her take on regular people in this country and what she's going through. She and her husband lost two homes and got completely wiped out of their life savings rebuilding. I asked her if she felt abandoned by regular people in the country. She said that she thought people were forgetting them down there. I mentioned that we really just aren't informed. And she totally was all over that.

          She and Pearl, lustrous pearl, are featured in this viral I did recently and this full vlog: NOLA: Forget Me Not, Meet Pearl and Margie

          Forget Me Not

          •  I LOVE your videos! (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mbair, marina, Nightprowlkitty, chigh

            You so "get" the city.  Thanks for all of your support.  We need ALL of our people that want to come home to be able to, yet it is not going to happen.  Many have died from the stress of being torn away and the obstacles but in the way of coming home.  Many died of the heartbreak of seeing their communities in tatters.  The young have the best chance of adapting to new locations.  That is what the young do.  But for those who had roots set deeply in the city, they will never feel at home anywhere else.  I have one problem with the fight to open public housing.  It is how can we do this and not help people with more income come home also.  The entire situation is a crime.

            •  I know and (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marina, Nightprowlkitty, doctorj2u, chigh

              this thread does have some good comments about serious reservations that people have with reopening some of these projects for various reasons.

              The entire situation is a crime.

              Knit one, pearl two Doc. Excuse me, Monsieur Doc.

              And thanks, I love this city now like I never loved Boston, my home. I always thought it was a beads and booze kind of town and I couldn't have been more wrong.

              Don't you love the pictures for "was it the simple things that mad me crazy about you? Was it your charm or your passion? It's not hard to believe I love you and I need you so I'm sending you forget me nots to help you to remember." I kinda tried to make that video for people who are both exiled in the Diaspora and back struggling to rebuild. Because they left a big piece of themselves behind when they left.

              "New Orleans has a broken heart."

    •  Not defending the Feds (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair, marina

      but are not most of these decisions being made locally by the State & HANO?

      The State has the enourmous tax credits for development and it seems they have decided to go the mixed income route, and have purposely decided to eliminate all concentrated low income developments.

      •  HANO (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, Nightprowlkitty, chigh

        is in receivership. They went bankrupt and HUD took them over.

        have purposely decided to eliminate all concentrated low income developments.

        No question this is true. Waters said just that and she was telling the truth that day.

        And yeah and if they want to do all this HOPE VI mixed income housing then fine, but NOLA today is facing some unique problems and returning people to the city and affordable housing are at the top of the list. Don't forget that most of these units never flooded. They were even the shelter of last resort for those who couldn't or didn't get out. Many people swam to these projects after the federally built and guaranteed levees broke and 80% of the city was flooded.

        This doesn't make sense to me from any level.

        •  But what part (0+ / 0-)

          of the reconstruction decisions are bing made at the Federal level. If I understood M. Waters correctly, even  her criticism of HUD is misplaced, bills are stalled in the Dem controlled Senate.

          I guess my larger point is that it is not criminal to have a differing opinion on a reconstruction strategy, lots of well meaning people in LA. believe in something  other than what these advocates preach.

          •  Well (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marina, Nightprowlkitty, chigh

            Waters mentions this: "we passed it off the floor and it's been languishing over on the Senate side since March." So you're right about that, but if you view the tape she says that she was told by Jackson that certain things would happen regardless of the status of the Gulf Coast Recovery Act. What you have to understand about Waters is that she's down there all the time. She told us about going to Houston with Ishmeal, a guy from NOSC, to document these stories and get some former residents back.

            As far as:

            of the reconstruction decisions are bing made at the Federal level.

            I don't know, but if HUD is HANO and the money is federal money then you can bet that the Feds have the final say as to whom the checks are written to and for how much.

            Do the local pols bear some responsibility? Absolutely yes.

            What is your point here? That the federal government bears no responsibility? Because you've got to realize that this problem is too big for any city to deal with on their own. Rebuilding NOLA requires a federal response and federal money, right?

          •  It is criminal (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mbair

            to not allow people to return to their homes, which hadn't even been flooded.

        •  Need is Immediate (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mbair, marina

          Whatever can be refurbished needs to be, although it is labor intensive and the cronies don't make a lot of profit if you have to pay for labor, even brown labor.  It is easier to tear down the hospital that only flooded in the basements, sell the property, buy new property and build new buildings.  Who do you suppose will make the money on all of these needless steps 2 1/2 years after Katrina blew into town and paid from taxpayers money in the form of CBG's?  Why do you think there was delay and stonewall until Jindal could be installed to push this shit through?  Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton - NOLA is calling.  Get the people on the busses like you did for the Jena 6.  What about you Obama, are you going to wait for Edwards to address the needs of NOLA?

          •  I'm with you (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marina, chigh

            it's all a scam and the number one ingredient is silence and lack of media focus on the rebuild. I believe that strongly. I believe that if most people in this country knew what the fuck, excuse my french, was going down - down there we'd have a bonus army on the Mall in DC. Or right down in Jackson Square with people from all over the country sleeping outside and demanding some goddamn fairness and accountability.  

            I too would love to see Obama down there because nobody covers anything Edwards does outside the net. He could do a lot, today, bringing the whole press corps down there with him. I don't know why NOLA isn't on the double O tour this weekend. I mean I know they're busy and it's crunch time, but they could do so much good with one 6 hour trip including fly time.

            •  Double O (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marina

              Where are you Oprah?  or What about Ellen, instead of making the Bush family look nice, why not come on home?  She could have asked Jena about lack of military service or don't ask don't tell or what did Jena think of NOLA.  Jena actually showed her face down here to promo her book in a very non publicized book signing, a lot like Ann Coulter and Rove.  They sneak into town and meet up with fellow ass holes.

  •  A big Thank You from everyone (7+ / 0-)

    I talked to down there goes out to all the volunteers that have come down to help gut and renovate houses. If you can't make it down there yourself to do something then consider a donation to a good cause:

    It's a grassroots effort to rebuild the city and it'll take a generation. Get involved.

  •  R'd and Tipped, But (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bucadibeppo

    I agree that all displaced NOLA residents who want to return should be able to, and there should be state/federal aid to make that happen.

    small points department, but "all" is a bit general. not all displaced residents in fact want to return.
    return to what?

    there were two disasters here; first Katrina then the disastrous lack of effort and aid by the state/federal governments to rebuild NOLA and it's economy as quickly as possible.

    the CLASS issue, which most are in denial about, obviously comes into view here for all to see: the federal government (run by the wealthy class) will destroy our Treasury in the effort to "democratize" a nation 1,000's of miles away, but will comparatively spend pennies rebuilding an important U.S. city and helping the residents there in a meaningful way.

    I hope you will continue your diaries here, particularly regarding demolition efforts and what exactly gets built in those areas-- will it be affordable housing for former NOLA residents or million dollar condos (as I suspect)?

    Cerberus: In Greek mythology, the three-headed watchdog who guards the entrance to the lower world, the Hades.

    by Superpole on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:03:32 AM PST

    •  It's a fair point and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Superpole, Over the Edge, doctorj2u

      one that was echoed in so many comments from ordinary people I met and interviewed down there. It's a catch-22. If you can return and you chose to return then you have to go back to a neighborhood in most cases that are devoid of basic services. Neighborhoods emptied out with a trickle of residents that have gotten back.

      It really is ... I don't know. A mess, a waste, a disgrace? Those terms don't seen to cover the scope of the abject human suffering.

      CLASS. Amen no one wants to go there. Thanks for the comment.

  •  good show (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbair, doctorj2u

    fight em back nola!

  •  You Should Certainly Know by Now - (0+ / 0-)

    That if you're poor -
    And you are Black, Hispanic, Appalachian, elderly, disabled, etc. -
    You are completely invisible.

    And if you DO make youself visible,
    They'll make you invisible again - pronto.

    •  Duly noted (4+ / 0-)

      it's a fair point, but we have to rage on this shizz. It's sunset kids, as a blogger you have the ability to unvisibilize injustice and mendacity. So do it.

      It's just like Bill Moyers said in Memphis last January:

      The internet ... makes possible a nation of story tellers, everyone of us, every citizen a Tom Paine. Let the man in the big house of Pennsylvania Avenue think that over. And the woman of the House on Capitol Hill.

      And as the media moguls in their chalets at Sun Valley gather to review the plantation assets and multiply them - Nail It To Their Door. They no longer own the copyright to America's story. It's not a top down story anymore. Other folks are going to write this story from the ground up and the truth will be out that the media plantation like the cotton plantation of old is not divinely sanctioned or the product of natural forces. The media system we've been living under was created behind closed doors when the power brokers met to divvy up the spoils.

      So get out the hammer folks and if you're already pounding out a few proclamations yourself then thanks for all your hard work.

  •  Three Questions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbair, doctorj2u, chigh

    I don't understand why they arrested Bill Quigley, if the WVUE coverage film was representative.  He was just standing there lawyer-like.  

    I don't understand why Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said Quigley wasn't arrested, just given a summons.  She has to know what arrested means.

    On the public housing question, is there any way for congress to get administration memoes and emails on the planning or lack thereof for renovation and construction?  I'd bet that there are communications specifically talking about the political "benefits" of discouraging the return of low income Orleanians.

    •  No idea (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nightprowlkitty

      on the first two, really. I put this diary together before coffee this morning mostly out of past diaries when I saw the AP story first thing and hit the roof.

      On the third, well. That requires an investigation. Waters is doing good work in DC on this issue. maybe she'll get some ink or issue some subpoenas to get the truth because it's all in the record, you're right about that.

      Dunno, I'll keep an eye out and if I find anything really interesting then I'll try to write it up.

    •  I think they were told to leave (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair

      and refused.  Then the baliffs were brought in.  I am not sure though.

    •  summons vs. arrested... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nightprowlkitty, doctorj2u

      I don't know if Quigley was booked and brought to the lockup.  He was popped and restrained because he tried to go back to the chamber via a side door.  In a lot of these cases, the cops make a show for the cameras then cut the activisit loose as soon as the tv crew walks away.  If that's the case, he would be issued a misdemeanor summons to appear in municipal court for the violation.

      The documentation you refer to is probably on one of those Rovian e-mail servers that Waxman would love to get his hands on.  I'm afraid that such documentation will be good for establishing just how disgusting these people are, but will come to light too late to be effective in the short run.

      funkify your life... NOLA Kossacks - a new dKos community!

      by YatPundit on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:11:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Quigley (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair

      I am really suprised they did not tazer him.  You see they want all the buildings knocked down so King Jindal can hand out the party favors.  They really roughed up Bill from what I could see on TV.  Call Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to NOLA right away.  What about our friend Stacy Head?  Where does she stand?  Fix the dam buildings and put the working poor in them immediately.

  •  Katrina is the biggest racist crime of 2000's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbair, doctorj2u

    why is there no more national outrage - are we really willing to write off NOLA like this?  It is not like it is a 'small' problem - or (may I say this) is this just another form of polite genocide...which I think it is.

    Can people detail more ways to get involved?

    Thank you.

    •  The whole treatment of the citizens of the Gulf (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair, Nightprowlkitty, chigh

      The whole treatment of the citizens of the Gulf South, by the government and industries like insurance companies and utilities, has been a two year crime in progress.  It has taken away my faith in my own country.

    •  Try the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nightprowlkitty, doctorj2u

      links in this comment that I posted.

      My personal feelings? get down there and see for yourself. Talk to people off the beaten path for the real story. And then share your experiences. Blog about it, talk about it with your coworkers. Anything would help.

      And remember that although much of the city was destroyed by the flood, the French Quarter was never touched. It's completely reopen for business and they'd love to have your tax dollars and business. The food is pretty good too.

  •  Public housing is just one aspect of this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nightprowlkitty, doctorj2u

    everyone is fighting for the "right of return" but nobody is asking, "return to what?"  Any family with school-age children evacuated from the city from public housing during the storm would be foolish to return to the city until such time as the Orleans Parish School System is functional and capable of actually teaching them something.  What an incredible disservice to those children it would be to take them out of HISD (and other Texas) schools and put them back into the same plantation cycle.

    funkify your life... NOLA Kossacks - a new dKos community!

    by YatPundit on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:15:09 AM PST

    •  Okay (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chigh

      but all plantations are pretty much the same, right?  They might look different or grow different crops but they're all the same. Plus many of these residents were at the bottom in NOLA and they're still at the bottom in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Arkansas or where ever they ended up.

      It's true that anyone would be doing a huge disservice to their families to return before their kids could attend a school, but life in the Diaspora sucks real bad. We think that these people are living the life of Riley with all the handouts, but as the blksista diary posted here in the comments points out: 40% of Katrina evacuees live below poverty level

      So it's more complicated. It's not just "return to what?" it's also "evacuate to what?"  

      •  Projects (0+ / 0-)

        I do not know if you realize that the public housing was built to benefit the uptown silk stocking crowd.  It allowed them to pay their servants a lot less since the housing was subsidized.

      •  but they've already been evacuated... (0+ / 0-)

        i'm not big into time travel discussions.  The folks who left the city are gone.  That bell can't be un-rung.  

        life in the Diaspora sucks real bad.

        yes, but will returning to New Orleans make it any better?  Maybe it will be a zero-sum game for someone with a minimum-wage job somewhere else to return to New Orleans, but what about families with children?  I don't see anyone addressing that, and all the restored project apartments in the world won't improve the quality of education those kids will get.

        funkify your life... NOLA Kossacks - a new dKos community!

        by YatPundit on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 11:44:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Time travel? (0+ / 0-)

          Unringing bells? Those folks are actual people and they live are New Orleanians regardless of their income or current place of residence.

          yes, but will returning to New Orleans make it any better?

          If you think the city is better off without them then that's your opinion.

          Tell Gilda to get over it. And just get on with her life.

          Gilda Burbank fled with three grandchildren to Houston, where she has struggled to find work and sleeps on an air mattress in a government-subsidized apartment. "I was poor before Katrina, but I had food on the table, we went to Mass, we had clothes," she says. "Now we're poor poor. We're worse off."

          40% of Katrina evacuees live below poverty level

          Gilda was a resident of St. Bernard public housing project and wants to return to the city that she still calls home.

          all the restored project apartments in the world won't improve the quality of education those kids will get.

          Thanks for your comment. Your concern for the education of the children of these folks is quite touching.  

          •  what is she returning to? (0+ / 0-)

            where will she get health care?
            how will she get around if she doesn't own a car?

            There are problems that need to be addressed and aspects to life in New Orleans that need to be fixed.  I fail to see how adding more strain to non-existent city services does any service to those you would bring back to the area.  

            There is no Charity Hospital to care for Gilda when she gets ill.

            The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is operating at 30% of pre-storm service, making it unlikely that Gilda will be able to go to and from her apartment to a job successfully.

            How is re-opening public housing projects in New Orleans going to improve the percentage of storm evacuees who live in poverty?  

            Perhaps you pause briefly from your speaking out and address these issues rather than post emotional videos that offer no solutions.  Your efforts aren't even touching as far as I'm concerned, they're meaningless.  You would put people into a situation worse than they're currently in, and to what end?    

            funkify your life... NOLA Kossacks - a new dKos community!

            by YatPundit on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 02:32:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I would put Gilda in (0+ / 0-)

              a situation worse than she is currently in? Are you serious?

              I fully realize that my "emotional" appeals are "meaningless" to you. That much I get, mostly my reply was left for any other readers of this thread. If you think your city is better off without Gilda then that's your opinion and you are entitled to it.

              I fail to see how adding more strain to non-existent city services does any service to those you would bring back to the area.

              Your failure to understand that the city and it's neighborhoods cannot rebuild unless they are first repopulated is abundantly clear.

        •  "Conern" (0+ / 0-)

          Just continue experessing your "concern".

    •  Vouchers (0+ / 0-)

      As soon as Jindal is installed, there will be vouchers to fill up all of those empty Catholic schools.

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