Thursday, December 13, 2007

Protesters stop New Orleans housing demolition

At several housing projects in New Orleans, thousands of poverty-stricken residents weren't allowed to return to their homes when Hurricane Katrina hit over 2 years ago. It wasn't because these homes were damaged. In fact these projects are in some of the few poor neighborhoods in the city that weren't touched by the flood waters.

Rather, these homes were slated for demolition because HUD abused a hurricane tax credit program to replace them with new housing that will have far less space for the poor. HUD - in conspiracy with large casino corporations - decided to try to build housing for a generally much wealthier market on this site. Although the new housing would be mixed-income, there would be far fewer homes there (probably zero) that the projects' residents could afford.

This despite the fact that New Orleans has seen a burgeoning homeless population and much higher rents following the deadly hurricane - so the city is actually more in need of housing for the poor than it was before. (A similar greedy action has been going on in Mississippi with the destruction of public housing there that escaped storm damage. And even before the hurricane, a housing project in New Orleans was already destroyed in this manner by being replaced by a mixed-use complex anchored by a stupid frigging Wal-Mart.)

Fortunately, however, people decided they weren't going to be bullied like this. So over 30 protesters blocked an excavator from entering one of the housing complexes. The peaceful demonstrators carried bullhorns and proclaimed, "Housing is a human right!"

There's also a lawsuit going on that claims HUD violated federal law by keeping the residents out of their homes following the hurricane. Bush's HUD cries that redeveloping the area costs less than fixing the buildings. But that is a lie - for these buildings weren't even damaged. Worse, if HUD gets away with demolishing these housing complexes, that will encourage other complexes to be destroyed as well.

It's good that the protesters decided to fight this bullshit instead of sitting back and tolerating it.


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