August 5, 2011

A Fresh Start in New Orleans

Written by:

I remember as if it were yesterday. Public housing residents in the City of New Orleans expressed outrage during the debate over whether to close four of the city’s largest public housing developments after they were severely damaged during Hurricane Katrina. HUD proposed rebuilding better, brighter affordable housing for New Orleans families. It’s been a long, hard road but new, improved housing is back in New Orleans.  Read all about it in USA Today.

While the affordable housing featured in this story is not part of the “big four” redevelopment that’s currently underway, it does illustrate how the new mixed-income affordable housing model can replace the outdated, crime-ridden developments that once existed in New Orleans. As we approach the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, public housing families who are living in this new community can celebrate a new beginning. The USA Today got it right…it is “a fresh model for housing the poor.”

One Response to A Fresh Start in New Orleans

  1. Ms. White– public housing was not “severely damaged” by Katrina: it was severely damaged by decades of congressional disdain for the HUD budget and demolition by neglect on the part of HANO in the immediate days, weeks, and months after the storm. If you believe strongly that new mixed-income communities are the answer, you shouldn’t have to rely on massaging the truth that the developments were not as damaged as you claim. In fact, the reason for the outrage from housing tenants at that November 2006 meeting at John Mac high school (I also remember it like it was yesterday because I have it on video) was that the buildings were sturdy as well as livable.

    Most of the tenant leadership and activists were advocating for a phased redevelopment that would have allowed for the immediate return of thousands while redevelopment could take place with greater input and leadership from the residents themselves. The USA today piece, like most news articles on the redevelopment process here and in cities across the country, gets a small part of the story right. But you and Mr. Jervis, the author, both gloss over the larger trends of the steady decline in low-income housing that is not incentivized or influenced by the market. A voucher is not the same thing as a home, as you must know.

    I think its safe now to promote a more honest telling of history. The buildings are gone anyways, and you won’t be telling anyone here something they didn’t already know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *