Obama Calls on President to Protect Affordable Housing in New Orleans, Keep Promise to Gulf Coast
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Michael Ortiz, 202 228 5566
CONTACT: Michael Ortiz, 202 228 5566
Despite urgent housing needs, Administration intends to drastically reduce federal housing in New Orleans
WASHINGON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today sent the following letter to President Bush, calling on him to abandon his Administration’s intentions to demolish federally-assisted housing in New Orleans, Louisiana until there is a comprehensive plan to meet the Gulf Coast region’s extensive affordable housing needs. Despite an estimated 12,000 people already homeless in New Orleans, and thousands more struggling with costly and slow rebuilding efforts since Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is now planning to reduce the limited supply of affordable housing even further by demolishing 4,500 units of public housing. Over the past two years, the Bush Administration has consistently failed Gulf Coast residents, and should not further exacerbate this tragic housing crisis by destroying affordable housing.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Mr. President:
I urge you to abandon all plans to demolish federally-assisted housing in New Orleans, Louisiana until there is a comprehensive plan to meet the region's extensive affordable housing needs.
Two years ago, when you appeared in Jackson Square, you spoke of America's “duty to confront this poverty with bold action.” You explained: “Americans want the Gulf Coast not just to survive, but to thrive; not just to cope, but to overcome. We want evacuees to come home, for the best of reasons -- because they have a real chance at a better life in a place they love.”
Unfortunately, there are an estimated 12,000 people already homeless in New Orleans, and thousands more are struggling with costly and slow rebuilding efforts and private rents that have risen 45% since the storm. More than two-thirds of the housing stock was destroyed by the hurricane, and much of it has not yet been rebuilt. Thousands of residents are still living in trailers with dangerous levels of formaldehyde even though more than 800 days have passed since Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
Despite this harsh reality, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is now planning to reduce the limited supply of affordable housing even further by demolishing 4,500 units of public housing. Notwithstanding your wish for evacuees to come home to “thrive” and “overcome,” New Orleans does not have adequate affordable housing options even for the people who are already there.
It is critical for policy makers to answer the following questions before any demolition takes place:
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