'MANAGING' PERCEPTUAL REALITIES: HUD/HANO GO ON OFFENSIVE WITH REASONS FOR GOING 'TO WAR' - ON NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC HOUSING - IN THE TIMES PICAYUNE
From the Times-Picayune headlines - Sunday December 16, 2007 edition:
PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS AND MANAGING THE REALITY OF 'FACTS':
"Nobody is going homeless over this."
David Jackson, HANO spokesman (as quoted in the TP article - on the demolition of 4500 public housing units)
Currently occupied homes and money earmarked so far for redevelopment will restore just over one-third (4,538) of the pre-Katrina units serving the lowest income households. No comprehensive plan or resources to address the remainder of the loss has been put forward.*
*Of the 12,000 units, 9,891 were occupied pre-Katrina, and just over 2,000 were closed for redevelopment. Current resources will cover restoring almost half of the occupied units.
"The Surge in Rents and the Squeezing of Rental Market
This significant cut in subsidized housing is occurring alongside a tremendous loss of private-market rental housing—across the entire income spectrum.
In New Orleans, 51,700 rental units were seriously damaged or destroyed by the 2005 hurricanes. Rents in many parts of the city have since doubled, with once common affordable rentals now virtually impossible to find.
Federal recovery programs are projected to restore only 43 percent of the city’s total rental losses (from extremely low income public housing to market rate rentals).
Statement Before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services
Author(s): Margery Austin Turner, Susan J. Popkin
New Orleans urgently needs to rebuild affordable rental housing in order to recover fully and fairly. Like most cities across the country, New Orleans already had an affordable housing crisis before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Almost a quarter of the city's residents had incomes below the federal poverty level and about two of every three households were renters. More than half of very low income households bore severe housing cost burdens—paying over half their monthly income for housing.1 And only a small proportion of needy households received federal housing assistance.
The Need for Affordable Rental Housing
Affordable housing needs are even more severe today, particularly for renters. More than half the city's rental housing stock was damaged or destroyed, and rents for the remaining units have risen substantially. Many low-income families who were struggling before they were displaced by the storm have been unable to return to the city because they cannot find an affordable place to live. And those who do return are likely to face severe hardship. (Popkin, Turner, and Burt 2006).
Federal, state, and local officials have all expressed a commitment to the safe return and a better future for displaced residents. But without affordable housing options, these commitments cannot be fulfilled, and the redevelopment of New Orleans will be stunted and inequitable.
read more: Avoiding the Mistakes of the Past
86% of pre-Katrina population is back
John Pope Staff Writer