Monday, April 30, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
Since being in New Orleans, I now see I did not really understand the deeper meaning of poverty. I did not understand how prevalent racism continues to be in this country. Nor did I understand the concept of "separate but equal" and the irony of such a sacrilege to humanity. The blessed people of New Orleans have taught me much and I am humbled to be so instructed.
I was in the Wal-Mart today... I seem to "see" things when I am there. Today, I was there buying some much needed hand sanitizer after a bout of intestinal virus (self inflicted - from not cleansing my hands then eating a snack by hand), anyhow I digress, I was in line and in front of me a young man and woman were buying 4 straw hats, a beach blanket, a fold-out chair, sunscreen and waters and getting a hundred dollars in cash. Behind me 2 men were buying 4 fold-out chairs and a cooler and other items for sitting out and enjoying the Jazz Festival.
And I couldn't stop my consciousness from wondering... have any of these people in line buying these items for "a day or two of fun" ever thought about the lives of the people who work at this Wal-Mart? Do thoughts enter their consciousness as they are buying whatever they need/want, that many of the people who work here cannot find work anywhere else in town? That their homes might still lay in ruins whilst they wait for help in gutting and rebuilding? That they have been living in a cramped FEMA trailer for almost 2 years with their families? That if they are African American, it is likely they will "subtly" be denied based on racism, fair housing opportunities in this city? Have any of the people who were in line today even gone down to the 9th Ward or St. Bernard Parish? Have they helped in gutting houses? Have they donated to helping rebuild a house? Are they aware of the suffering of their fellow New Orleanians? Even if they are "tourists" just here for the Jazz Festival - are they aware of the ongoing suffering occurring here? Do they leave the French Quarter or talk with the locals who might be serving them in the restaurants and bars or across the counters at the stores?
I won't be at the Jazz festival this weekend. I don't begrudge in any way those who are and will be at the Jazz Festival having fun. Fun is necessary in the balance of life. But when do we question the in-balance between those who "have" - who seem to have plenty of opportunities to rest and have fun and those who do not "have" who endure incredible suffering and poverty daily? What does it take for the "haves" to move out from their self-absorption and self-gratification to become aware of their brothers and sisters around them who are suffering? If they do not drive out of their comfort zones and "see" those who are suffering sometimes unendurably, and their consciousness' are absorbed in only meeting the needs of their own families and communities - how can a higher consciousness - a greater compassionate heart, ever be found in them?
Sometimes when I walk down the streets "Uptown" I want to ask, have you been down to the 9th Ward or St. Bernard Parish? Did you go down and help? Do you go down there and help? Are you aware of the suffering? But people "Uptown" are so well guarded, so well masked, that there are no opportunities for such intimacies.
Prayers for the suffering.
Posted by SoulJAH at 12:22 PM
Thursday, April 26, 2007
"But what is under construction or in the planning stages now is not nearly
enough to meet the demand."
"Thousands remain in FEMA trailers, while thousands more are on the streets or in other cities and states. "
"Without workers, businesses cannot reopen in any great number."
"Without the businesses and their employees, these communities will continue to struggle financially and will remain dependent on the largesse of the state and federal governments to keep running."
Posted by SoulJAH at 10:12 AM
How would you feel if your street looked like this 20 months after 2 hurricanes?
Would you feel abandoned? Would you feel despair?
Would you feel hopeless? Alone in your suffering?
Posted by SoulJAH at 9:54 AM
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
1. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans causing the breach of several levees and the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents. Of the 354,045 residents who lived in damaged areas of New Orleans, 75 percent were African-American and more than 29 percent were poor.
Almost ten months later, a majority of these residents remain displaced. Most 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, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (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. Instead of moving quickly to re-open habitable units and make repairs where necessary, for the most part, HANO boarded up units. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made clear that these families would not be able to return anytime soon when it announced its plan to demolish 5,000 public housing units.
2. By failing to reopen housing units that were undamaged by Hurricane Katrina, failing to repair other units, and declaring that most of the existing public housing stock in New Orleans would be demolished, HANO and HUD (Defendants) are violating their obligation to provide non-discriminatory access to safe, affordable housing for low-income families and breaching their contractual commitments and statutory obligations to public housing residents of New Orleans. Their actions and inactions will instead effectively exclude thousands of low-income African-American families from the city. Further, Defendant HUD has failed to meet its obligations to preserve, to the extent possible, all public housing in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. 1 JOHN LOGAN, THE IMPACT OF RACE AND CLASS IN STORM DAMAGED NEIGHBORHOODS 7,15 (2006), available at www.s4.brown.edu/Katrina/report.pdf.
3. This action is brought on behalf of the class of individual African-Americans who, before Hurricane Katrina, resided in public housing (“Plaintiffs”) managed by Defendants. As a result of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Plaintiffs were displaced from their public housing units and currently reside elsewhere or have returned or attempted to return to their public housing unit with or without Defendants’ authorization. Plaintiffs want to return to their homes and to New Orleans.
4. For many years, Defendants have squeezed low-income African-American families out of public housing in New Orleans by reducing the number of public housing units from over 13,000 to approximately 7,000. Their post-Hurricane Katrina actions have exacerbated that improper conduct.
7. On Sept. 29, 2005, Secretary Jackson, who is charged with the development of a public housing plan for New Orleans and for not only enforcement of fair housing opportunities but also furthering fair housing in the use of federal funds, stated that post-Katrina New Orleans “is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again.”3 On April 24, 2006, Defendant Jackson further stated that “[o]nly the best [public housing] residents should return. Those who paid rent on time, those who held a job and those who worked.”4
3 Becky Bowman et al., Hurricane Rita: The Aftermath; Population Shift,” THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Sept. 29, 2005. at B1. 4 Bill Walsh, Official blunt on Public Housing, THE TIMES PICAYUNE, Apr. 25, 2006, available at http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1145947501313590.xml 5 Martin Savidge, What’s next for Public Housing in New Orleans?, available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11485681/ 6 Charles Babington, Some GOP Legislators Hit Jarring Notes in Addressing Katrina, THE WASHINGTON POST, Sept. 10, 2005, at A04, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/09/09/AR2005090901930.html
These photos were taken on April 22, 2007 at the Lafitte Housing Project named in the above lawsuit.
Every unit was empty.
The buildings were clearly in better shape then the C. J. Peete Housing units.
Yet these units were all empty. And these are only a "few" pictures of all the empty affordable housing.
Where are all the families that once lived here?
How are they faIring right now?
Some are housed in FEMA trailers nearby.
Posted by SoulJAH at 12:47 PM