Saturday, June 17, 2006

6/17/2006 Community Gumbo

The city's neighborhood planning process takes a major step forward today with a meeting to vote on final rules and candidates to guide the rebuilding process, but neighborhood organizers complain that they aren't being included in the process. More at the People Get Ready blog.

audio New Orleans: Dead and Gone?
This many months after Katrina it seems like New Orleans is still a really hard place to live. Huge patches of the city are uninhabited. More than half residents haven’t come back. Only 17 of 122 public schools have reopened. There is still debris everywhere…junked out cars and twisted metal street signs, even in front of the Superdome. Did we mention last Thursday was the start of hurricane season and that there are 17 named storms forecast for this year? ...

Is it time to recognize that New Orleans just isn’t coming back?

Despite everyone’s hope against hope, has the daily grind of dealing with FEMA become too much, even for the city’s most enterprising souls? Is New Orleans slowly bleeding to death? Is it already dead?

Or are we judging the long road to recovery too hastily?

Open Source was conceived and developed by Christopher Lydon and Mary McGrath. A joint production of Open Source Media Inc. and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Open Source is presented by WGBH Radio Boston and distributed by Public Radio International (PRI).

Special thanks to former WTUL DJ Brendan Greeley for granting permission to re-broadcast Open Source

Related: From a Wedding in New Orleans

Hammond, LA, Sunday Afternoon

Crazy love keeps a native at home

audio New Orleans residents protest HUD plan to demolish public housing developments


Lolis Eric Elie, "HUD builds Katrina hall of shame," The Times-Picayune
While tens of thousands of New Orleanians languish far away from home, HUD proposes to reopen 1,000 units of public housing by summer's end.

By summer's end?

The federal government controls most public housing in New Orleans, yet it has done next to nothing to repair those complexes.

As for the 1,000 units, the St. Bernard housing complex alone contained 1,300 units. One thousand units is not many compared with how many such units are needed.

I shouldn't be surprised. This latest disaster is consistent with the confluence of federal failures: the porous floodwalls designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the callous incompetence of FEMA, to name the most obvious pair.

Key to the federal plan is the demolition of four complexes: St. Bernard in Gentilly, C.J. Peete in Central City, B.W. Cooper off Earhart Boulevard, and Lafitte near the Faubourg Treme. These sites will be turned into mixed-income communities.

Exactly what is wrong with these buildings?

"We want to redevelop these old, obsolete and just dangerous properties," said Scott Keller, HUD's deputy chief of staff.

When you consider that many houses in New Orleans are more than 100 years old, none of the public housing complexes can be criticized for their age.

As for these properties being obsolete or dangerous, high-density properties need not necessarily be either. In many places, New York City for example, such buildings are coveted. ...

As much as any other impediment, HUD's three-year timetable ensures that many of our people will never return home. Hardest hit by the government's slovenly pace will be the poorest and darkest of our citizens.

The federal role in their permanent removal is as undeniable as it is despicable.

Gwen Filosa, "HUD demolition plan protested," The Times-Picayune:
Dozens of public housing residents Thursday protested the federal government's plan to demolish four complexes in New Orleans, saying they are left without homes in a city where rentals are nearly impossible to find.

One day after U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced that New Orleans would lose housing complexes but gain a "renaissance" of better low-income housing, some of the families who called St. Bernard, Lafitte, C.J. Peete and B.W. Cooper home cried foul at a City Council hearing. ...

HUD, which essentially runs the Housing Authority of New Orleans since it fell into dire mismanagement by 2002, said it will reopen 1,000 more units of public housing by August, bringing the number of units to more than 2,000: almost half the public housing stock that existed before Hurricane Katrina.

HUD also has raised its Section 8 and disaster housing vouchers by 35 percent to keep up with post-Katrina rent increases across the city. ...

"It's important to see everyone be able to come back," said Scott Keller, deputy chief of staff for HUD, who spoke in place of Jackson, who had to return to Washington, D.C., for a meeting. "We don't want gangs. We don't want unsafe conditions. We want single moms to be safe, and their children."

Keller said the plan will improve public housing and raise the standard of living for its residents. When one critic challenged the agency's intentions, Keller responded in kind.

New Orleans Free Speech Radio News reporter Christian Roselund supplied interviews with HUD Deputy Chief of Staff Scott Keller, and housing residents (archived audio not yet available).

The NOLA Food Map Project
Interview with Max Elliott from the New Orleans Food & Farm Network, on the NOLA Food Map Project to create maps that show residents in devastated areas where food is available, from grocery stores and markets, to restaurants and emergency kitchens.

NOFFN has organized Food For Our Sake to raise money in support of the NOLA Food Map Project. The list of participating restaurants which will donate a portion of their receipts to the project and be found at the NOFFN Web site.

Food maps will eventually be printed and distributed, and can be viewed online at


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