Thursday, April 06, 2006

Public Housing in New Orleans UPDATE

St. Bernard Housing Projects Residents Attempting to Clean Their Apartments
Click Image to Download the VIDEO 77 mgs 20 minutes
Here's a Bandwidth Challenged Version 6 mgs

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

They assassinated King, April 4, 1968
On April 4, 2006 St Bernard public housing residents returned from forced exile, to clean up and reclaim their homes.

People who had leases with HANO and want to join the lawsuit against HANO can sign up online at:

For more info: call 504-520-9521 or 504-319-3564
Related Links ::: Public Housing NY to NOLA Evacuees Speak Out ~ VIDEO,
Bill Quigley, H.A.N.O., Privatizing New Orleans, Fair Housing Action Center,

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Blogger ~ FluxRostrum said...

Demolition is developments' destiny, HANO says
Agency confronts civil rights lawsuit
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
By Gwen Filosa
Staff writer
Public housing in New Orleans has a date with the wrecking ball, and
residents, activists and their attorneys need to accept the harsh
reality of a post-Hurricane Katrina world, attorneys for the Housing
Authority of New Orleans say in court responses to an ongoing civil
rights lawsuit.

Former tenants this year sued HANO and the Department of Housing and
Urban Development for closing four of the largest New Orleans
developments. The plaintiffs depict the HANO-HUD plan as racist: a
cold-hearted abandonment of the poor that violates their civil rights.
HANO denies any wrongdoing and, in its most detailed response to
critics since the levees failed 13 months ago, says it cannot afford
to repair what the floodwaters damaged. So does its co-defendant HUD,
the federal housing agency that has directly run HANO since 2002
after finding rampant mismanagement that stretched across two decades.
Between 1981 and 2001, HUD sunk slightly more than $1 billion -- $800
million in the 1990s alone -- into New Orleans public housing without
any documented results of improvement to the lives of its tenant
families, a federal audit found.
HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson in June announced that his office
would mastermind the post-Katrina plan. To start: Tear down four
major complexes and start over, he said.
HANO describes its holdings as "deteriorated, obsolete, high-density
public housing developments located in areas of racial and poverty
isolation." Repairing them is beyond the scope and skills of its
maintenance staff, HANO argues, and hiring contractors would cost
hundreds of millions per site.
Nor does HANO have much patience with the notion that returning to
New Orleans is a civil right. HANO's message to former residents of
St. Bernard, Lafitte, B.W. Cooper, and C.J. Peete is that they need
to move on with their lives. They also point out that HANO has issued
vouchers to help its pre-Katrina residents find places to rent.
"To the extent that there are no alternative accommodations available
in New Orleans, HANO certainly has no duty to provide plaintiffs with
housing in New Orleans," attorney Rachel Wisdom wrote on behalf of
HANO and its administrators, HUD officials Donald Babers and William
"It is an unfortunate result of the hurricane that many people who
would like to live in New Orleans simply cannot do so at the present
time," wrote Wisdom, of the New Orleans firm Stone, Pigman, Walther,
Wittmann, LLC. "Plaintiffs have been provided with housing vouchers
to use anywhere they want, whether in New Orleans, as some have done,
or in nearby Louisiana communities or those out of state."
HANO also dismisses the allegation that its mass closings are racist,
noting that all of its tenants are African-American, therefore no one
class of people is being discriminated against over another.
A full-blown hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 25 in federal
court before U.S. District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle.

Vision for future
For now, the government agencies consider Cooper, Peete, Lafitte and
St. Bernard candidates for demolition and redevelopment, while two
additional complexes in the 9th Ward, Florida and Desire, remain
closed. HANO already has struck a lease with developers to take the
reins in redeveloping the Lafitte site.
In place of the old concentrations of uniformly low-income tenants in
uniformly squalid housing, HANO promises modern-day housing clusters
that mix subsidized tenants among middle- and even upper-income
residents living in housing styles that range from apartments to
single-family homes. That is the future, like it or not, the city
agency and its federal overseers say.
HANO doesn't build housing and estimates that it would cost at least
$80 million to repair just one of the flood-damaged complexes.
Instead of building, HANO manages and maintains units that date back
to the 1940s and a portion of new homes built by private developers
as part of the River Garden complex, which comprises mostly
market-rate renters who live on the site of the former St. Thomas
public housing development.
The first foray into the revamping of public housing is taking place
in Treme and in the adjacent city district known to post-Katrina
planners as Tulane-Gravier, a piece of the city bordered by Treme and
the Pontchartrain Expressway and stretching from Mid-City's South
Broad Street to Claiborne Avenue. Nonprofit developers Providence
Community Housing and Enterprise have teamed up to demolish Lafitte
and develop 1,500 new homes.
Jim Kelly, chief executive officer of the local Catholic Charities
agency and Providence's president, is taking care to present himself
and his colleagues as home builders, not hired guns. They have
promised to replace the 900 apartments at Lafitte, keeping the same
formula for rents as HANO, which is 30 percent of a tenant's income.
"We're trying to bring people back to New Orleans while we try to
develop the site," Kelly told a crowd of at least 300 neighborhood
residents during a meeting this month. "That's what our mission is:
to bring you home."

Dwindling supply
Public housing has been slowly disappearing from the city's landscape
for decades. HANO's housing stock, which in 1996 numbered 13,694
units, had shrunk to 7,600 apartments before Katrina, with only 5,146
occupied. The number of occupied homes today is fewer than 1,100.
HANO's response to the federal lawsuit makes no apology for its
handling of the disaster.
Part policy paper, part tough-love lecture, the documents filed in
answer to the tenants' lawsuit constitute the most direct statement
yet from the beleaguered housing authority, taken over by the federal
government in 2002, years after the feds started monitoring what they
found to be rampant mismanagement of money that was supposed to go
toward complex upkeep.
HANO has the support of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and is raring to
roll forward with its decision to redevelop its holdings rather than
patch them back together.
But ridding the city of the aging clusters of brick buildings hinges
largely on private developers, who would have to create housing that
serves a poor community and gamble that government tax credits would
make it possible to offer rents as low as HANO's.
With residents required to pay 30 percent of their income, HANO rents
range from $25 a month to $418. On average, tenants pay $85 monthly.
HANO contends it has done its best under difficult circumstances,
handing out housing vouchers for displaced tenants and cleaning up
the mess that Katrina and the ensuing floods made of the public
housing complexes -- some, such as the Desire complex, that had been
recently overhauled.

Some units reopened
HANO had been planning to reopen a number of units at the C.J. Peete
development in Central City when vandals and looters stripped copper
pipes and wiring from them, rendering the vacant buildings
unsalvageable. Pre-Katrina, only 144 of the complex's 723 apartments
were occupied.
The Iberville complex, which borders the French Quarter, was reopened
not long after the storm and has become a catch-all residence for
tenants shut out of other public housing, such as St. Bernard, which,
like its neighbors in Gentilly, was flood-ravaged. Iberville had 836
apartments pre-Katrina but only 673 occupied. Today, the number of
units open and filled is 217.
St. Bernard has more than 1,400 apartments, but only 1,015 were
filled with families before the storm.
Meanwhile, Lafitte in Treme, home to 865 families before Katrina, is
on track for demolition and rebirth by a team of nonprofit developers
with a track record for successfully turning blight into working
neighborhoods. Providence and its counterpart, Enterprise, unveiled
plans this month to residents during a series of public meetings,
during which developers repeated that they are not HANO or HUD and
that they had nothing to do with the decision to tear down the brick
Instead, developers gave tours of modular homes put up in the 1800
block of Dumaine and invited residents to pitch their ideas.
. . . . . . .
Gwen Filosa can be reached at or (504) 826-3304.

6:49 PM  
Blogger ~ FluxRostrum said...

from Bill Quigley


Please review the long document filed in federal court that outlines
how HUD and HANO are lying about public housing in NO.
You can find it at: or

Thanks to Tracie Washington, the good people at Advancement Project
and Jenner & Block for their leadership in this struggle for justice.

Bill Q

7:15 PM  
Blogger ~ FluxRostrum said...

From today's Picayune...

HANO OKs razing of 4 housing complexes
But residents have filed suit, saying facilities can be fixed

Friday, December 08, 2006
By Gwen Filosa
Staff writer
The Housing Authority of New Orleans on Thursday approved plans to
demolish the city's four largest public housing complexes and other
smaller sites, blaming Hurricane Katrina for leaving about 7,500
apartments not worth repairing.

No dates have been set, but HANO plans to demolish the St. Bernard,
C.J. Peete, Lafitte and B.W. Cooper developments to make way for an
estimated $681 million worth of mixed-income neighborhood
The deadline to raze the complexes and about 600 additional units of
public housing scattered across the city is Dec. 31, 2008, HANO has
said, and the agency has already spent about $3 million on staff and
consultants as part of the preparation for demolition.
Donald Babers, the federal housing official appointed after the storm
as HANO's one-man board of commissioners, approved the measure with
one smack of the gavel at the agency's regular meeting Thursday, a
week after hundreds of former tenants berated the agency for erasing
homes in a time of crisis.
However, demolition of the complexes cannot happen until HANO and the
Department of Housing and Urban Development resolve a federal civil
rights lawsuit filed by public housing residents in June that cites
experts who call many of the complexes in New Orleans candidates for
renovation instead of destruction.
The government, in response to the lawsuit, said the four vacant
complexes are "obsolete" and only perpetuate racial and economic
During the two-hour meeting, residents and advocates rose to
uniformly condemn the demolition and ask how the thousands of
families who once lived in the complexes will find new homes in New
Orleans. Although HANO and HUD have handed out federal housing
vouchers, known as Section 8, only about 1,200 families in the city
are using them, compared to 9,000 before Katrina.
The four complexes, which were never renovated after they were built
in the 1940s and 1950s, have remained shuttered since last year's
hurricane season, except for a portion of the Cooper that will house
families while the rest of the development is torn down.
HANO, run by HUD since 2002, put on hold its decision to approve its
169-page plan for 2007 and the next five years.
HANO will submit its demolition applications to HUD Secretary
Alphonso Jackson, who in June announced the government's desire to
replace complexes with mixed-income neighborhoods that will include a
portion of subsidized housing.
Babers and his staff made no comments on the monumental decision the
demolition plan represents. But housing advocates and residents
called the citywide razing plan immoral and illegal.
"I'm against any demolition of any development," said state Rep.
Charmaine Marchand, D-New Orleans, who gave Babers a message for
Jackson. "Tell him he needs to remember what color he is. The people
he is putting out are the same color he is. They and he all answer to
the same god."
Sharon Jasper, who lived at St. Bernard until the flood, told Babers,
"The day you tear down St. Bernard, you're going to break a lot of
After Katrina and Rita, HANO said, it combed through its housing
stock, unit by unit, to see what it could salvage. It deemed two
sprawling complexes, the St. Bernard in the 7th Ward and Cooper,
which sits off Earhart Boulevard, doomed for the wrecking ball, along
with smaller counterparts, C.J. Peete in Central City and Lafitte in
"HANO and HUD determined that numerous units no longer met the
requirements of providing safe, sanitary and decent housing," Babers
wrote in a memorandum attached to Thursday's meeting agenda.
Lafitte, home to 850 families before the storm, sits empty with all
doors and windows sealed off by steel plates HANO rents by the week
from a security company. Two developers, Providence Community and
Enterprise, have signed a deal to redevelop the complex after HANO
knocks it down.
Laura Tuggle, an attorney at the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corp.,
said the public housing complexes belong to those who lived there.
"These are communities that people have such close ties to," Tuggle
said. "It's their support system, and all of that has been ripped
HANO's 2007 plan is available on its Web site,
Before Katrina, about 5,100 families lived in public housing. Today,
about 1,100 families have returned to the remaining complexes,
Iberville and Guste near the city's downtown, Fischer in Algiers, and
one portion of Cooper.
. . . . . . .
Gwen Filosa can be reached at or (504) 826-3304.

10:23 AM  
Blogger ~ FluxRostrum said...

> Contact: Malik Rahim, Co-Founder, 504-376-1967
> Soleil Rodrigue, Legal Coordinator, 504-717-7324
> Facing Imminent Homelessness, Woodlands Families Appeal to Landlord
> New Orleans, LA (January 4, 2007) – Eighteen Woodlands families
> facing homelessness will hold a press conference at 9:00am on their
> eviction
> date, Thursday, January 4, to ask Soundra Johnson-Temple of Baton Rouge,
> owner of Johnson Properties Group, LLC, for more time to find
> housing. The press conference will be at the Woodlands apartment
> complex (3010 Sandra Dr.) in Algiers.
> Johnson Properties Group claims it needs to empty the 350-unit complex
> for renovations because of liability concerns. However, many of the
> units are immaculate – they have already been renovated by tenants
> hired by Common Ground to do the work. Common Ground has also
> received unconfirmed reports that Johnson Properties Groups, LLC has
> begun moving its own workers into the complex, and making private
> deals with a few residents to remain and work on the project.
> Eighteen families are facing homelessness as a result of a November
> 29, 2006 agreement with Johnson Properties Group that gave over 100
> Woodlands families just over a month to find new homes. Since the
> brief stay of eviction, over 100 families have been working seven days
> a week with Common Ground's Woodlands Housing Assistance Team in
> search of new affordable housing. These families face a market where
> rents have increased between 70 and 300 percent since Katrina,
> providing few options for these residents. Many families have left
> their homes to sleep on the floors of friends or family members homes.
> Eighteen of the families still have no prospects.
> Most of the families looking for housing include young children, and
> many have a member who is disabled. The majority have women as the
> head of household, some of whom are elderly and caring for
> grandchildren. Most have a source of income, yet cannot afford the
> rising cost of living in New Orleans. Only a few have a place to go
> or families to stay with if they are evicted. The majority are faced
> with the bleak option of the city's over-crowded shelters.
> In light of these hardships, the families will appeal to Soundra
> Johnson Temple and the Johnson Properties Group, LLC and the court of
> public opinion for more time so they may have a reasonable transition.
> They will ask that when renovations begin, they be allowed to move to
> another part of the complex not being worked on, if they cannot remain
> in their own apartments, until they locate another place to live.
> The evictions are a direct result of Johnson Properties Group's
> purchase of the complex in early November. Previously the families
> had held valid and current leases with Common Ground, who was managing
> the property through an agreement with the original owner, Anthony
> Reginelli. After the sale Johnson Properties Group, LLC refused to
> honor the leases with Woodlands residents, and issued eviction
> notices.
> Soundra Johnson Temple, owner of Johnson Properties Group, LLC, also
> owns and operates Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Options and is a
> prominent citizen of Baton Rouge

6:17 PM  
Blogger ~ FluxRostrum said...

January 31st 200fucking7 Update

It's been on TV but not yet on that an NOPD SWAT team, around 2am, broke through barricades in the New Day Center at the St. Bernard Development and arrested the Mayday NOLA people last night.

This is bruttish, thuggish behavior. There was no call to respond in this manner, and I believe this calls for a response from public housing residents and community supporters.

Mayday NOLA was reoccupying a building that has been slated for demolition. Apparently, HUD is now teaming up with the NOPD to prevent, and intimidate people from returning to their homes.

Essentially, they are trying to criminalize the activity of residents who have simply begun cleaning out their homes in an effort to reclaim them. The message has been sent from HUD, through the NOPD, to reinforce HUD's illegal position: that of keeping residents from reclaiming their homes.

We know who the true criminals are. HUD is in violation of its own laws as it continues to maintain its position, now with the backing of the thuggish, NOPD SWAT team.

As citizens, we must be alarmed at the treatment of fellow citizens who were engaging in peaceful, civil disobedience at the St. Bernard Housing Development.

It is my understanding that two days ago a public housing resident was arrested at one of the developments, when he verbally confronted NOPD officers who were kicking in doors of one of the developments.

Last night, at a public HANO hearing, an independent film documentarian was threatened with arrest by one of the HANO officers working security there. The threat came in the form of "We will arrest you if you set foot in the St. Bernard Development".

We must stand up to this type of bullying, and publicly call HANO, HUD and the NOPD on their anti-democratic behavior.

This is not NAZI Germany. We should all be alarmed and angry at this type of treatment of citizens.

From Mayday NOLA on :

We are members of an organization called Mayday NOLA, a housing rights organization “committed to the belief that housing is a human right, and that all people are entitled to economic justice. Many of us have been or currently are homeless ourselves, so we are dedicated from within the communities most affected by economic injustice.”

Let's stand together with Mayday NOLA, and public housing residents, in defense of their homes, and our democratic rights.

Elizabeth Cook
C3/Hands off Iberville

9:15 AM  

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