On the 12th day before Christmas, the US Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) is planning to unleash teams of bulldozers to
demolish thousands of low-income apartments in New Orleans. Despite
Katrina causing the worst affordable housing crisis since the Civil
War, HUD is spending $762 million in taxpayer funds to tear down over
4,600 public housing subsidized apartments and replace them with 744
similarly subsidized units - an 82 percent reduction. HUD is in charge
and one HUD employee makes all the local housing authority decisions.
HUD took over the local housing authority years ago - all decisions are
made in Washington, DC. HUD plans to build an additional 1,000 market
rate and tax credit units - which will still result in a net loss of
2,700 apartments to New Orleans - the remaining new apartments will
cost an average of over $400,000 each!
Affordable housing is at a critical point along the Gulf Coast. Over
50,000 families still living in tiny FEMA trailers are being systematically
forced out. Over 90,000 homeowners in Louisiana are still waiting to receive
federal recovery funds from the Road Home. In New Orleans, hundreds of the
estimated 12,000 homeless have taken up residence in small tents across the
street from City Hall and under the I-10.
In Mississippi, poor and working people are being displaced along the
coast to allow casinos to expand and develop shipping and other commercial
activities. Two dozen ministers criticized the exclusion of renters and
low-income homeowners from post-Katrina assistance: "Sadly we must now bear
witness to the reality that our Recovery Effort has failed to include a
place at the table ... for our poor and vulnerable..."