New Orleans, LA

Katrina's wrath lingers for New Orleans' poor

December 13, 2007
If the government has its way, the moldering hulks of the St. Bernard public housing projects soon will be rubble. That has been the government's plan for more than a year — and for more than a year it has been locked in a legal battle with housing advocates here who want officials to fix up apartments waterlogged by the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina rather than tear them down. Unless the vast system of public housing is reopened quickly, advocates fear many former residents will never come back.
     The result: More than two years after the storm hit, all but a few of the city's government-run apartments remain shut, surrounded by barbed wire and uninhabitable. Demolition of some began this week. Building replacements will take at least two more years.

Vitter blocks plan to rebuild N.O. projects

December 03, 2007
The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act guarantees the redevelopment of the New Orleans public housing projects into mixed income communities and the return of thousands of working class families to the city, supporters say.
     Despite overwhelming support, the bill was killed in committee by Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie.
     Politically, Vitter stands alone in his objections.
     The GCHRA is supported by Sen. Mary Landrieu, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Mayor C. Ray Nagin, the New Orleans City Council and more than 100 business, faith-based, civic and human rights organizations.
     The entire Louisiana congressional delegation, favors passing the GCHRA, except for Vitter who refused repeated requests to comment for this story.

N.O. housing authority told to return St. Thomas families

November 14, 2007
Inside a federal courtroom Wednesday, the Housing Authority of New Orleans handed over a list of nearly 3,000 names of public housing residents who once lived at the St. Thomas development, which was demolished in 2000 to make way for a mixed-income neighborhood.
     The hearing was yet another legal skirmish between HANO and housing advocates, who hauled the agency into court after a month-long wait for the correct addresses of former St. Thomas families who were promised preferential treatment for River Garden homes built on a site that once held barracks-style brick buildings.
     Attorneys for the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center said that HANO violated a legal agreement in June when it delivered only a partial list of St. Thomas families that was riddled with errors.

HUD to assume FEMA rental payments for hurricane victims on Dec. 1

October 15, 2007
To ensure all eligible families who were displaced by the 2005 hurricanes will continue to receive seamless rental assistance, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) will delay, by one month, the complete transfer of FEMA's rental assistance program to HUD.
     HUD, through a network of local public housing authorities (PHAs), will begin paying rents for families who are eligible to receive FEMA rental assistance beginning December 1. Either FEMA directly or through its contractor, Corporate Lodging Consultants (CLC), will continue paying landlords through November with PHAs picking up rent payments beginning December 1st through the duration of the program. HUD does not expect a disruption of service.

Vitter pans funding for rebuilding N.O. projects

October 08, 2007
Senate Bill 1668 would ensure the federal government provides additional funding for Louisiana’s Road Home program, which is estimated to have a $3.5-billion shortfall.
     But Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, is raising concerns about provisions in the bill dealing with New Orleans public housing.
     Vitter said the bill proposes to “re-create the New Orleans housing projects exactly as they were, but they were poorly designed, offered barely any quality services to residents and, most importantly, isolated the residents from the rest of the city.”

ACLU report exposes ongoing civil and human rights violations on the Gulf Coast as Katrina's second anniversary nears

August 20, 2007
The American Civil Liberties Union today released a report revealing continuing incidents of racial injustice and human rights abuses on the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area two years ago. In its report, Broken Promises: Two Years After Katrina, the ACLU exposes numerous civil rights violations that have occurred in Louisiana and Mississippi since the storm, including reports of heightened racially motivated police activity, housing discrimination, and prisoner abuse.

They've gutted their houses and may even live in them, but some N.O. homeowners still get notices of demolition, and their anger is growing

August 10, 2007
The pink notice that appeared in April on Robert Lucien's flooded house in Gentilly warning of an impending government demolition prompted the lifelong New Orleans resident to take two swift steps: First, Lucien tore down the sticker.
     Then, he made a bee-line for City Hall.
     In appealing the condemnation of his home as an "imminent health threat," he offered a letter showing that a nonprofit group planned to clean out the ungutted property, and a city-issued permit he had secured to rebuild. He walked away with a signed receipt assuring him the city would take the house off its list of tear-downs.

New Orleans Fair Housing group settles HANO/HRI River Garden lawsuit

July 09, 2007
Dasha Corner and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (“FHAC”), represented by the Tulane Civil Litigation Clinic, announce today that a lawsuit filed in December 2006 in federal court against the Housing Authority of New Orleans and LGD Rental 1, LLC (“HRI/River Garden”), owner of River Garden Apartments, formerly the St. Thomas public housing development, has been resolved by consent decree.
     In their complaint, Ms. Corner and FHAC alleged that HANO and HRI/River Garden breached a valid conciliation agreement (“Enforcement Agreement”) entered in August 2003 under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 when they leased ACC units at the River Garden Apartments in New Orleans to HANO employees and other non-former St. Thomas residents. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that such conduct violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601, et seq. and Civ. Code Art. 1994. HANO and HRI/River Garden denied all of the plaintiffs’ allegations, citing an IRS waiver.

Racial bias in local housing market is widespread

April 30, 2007
On Tuesday, April 24, 2007, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) revealed the results of its recent investigation into race-based rental discrimination in the New Orleans area, including Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany parishes. The investigation showed that 57.5 percent of landlords discriminated against African-American testers searching for rental housing.
     The report, titled "For Rent, Unless You're Black," underscores what many New Orleanians living in exile in other parts of the U.S. have been saying since the levees broke 20 months ago: Business owners are making it increasingly difficult for displaced black New Orleanians to make it home.

New Orleans Housing Authority chooses firms for mixed income housing

March 29, 2007
A collaboration of mixed-income housing developers and local non-profits organizations have been selected to plan the redevelopment of New Orleans' damaged public housing communities at St. Bernard, C.J. Peete and B.W. Cooper. The announcement was made today at the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) board meeting.

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