NEW ORLEANS — Several hundred demonstrators marched peacefully to Mayor Ray Nagin’s home Saturday morning, calling for the reopening of public housing developments shuttered since Hurricane Katrina.
But the mayor was not home.
He was attending a city-sponsored holiday toy giveaway outside City Hall, said Malana Joseph, a spokesperson for the mayor. Nagin had no comment on the rally, which was monitored by New Orleans police and a small contingent of National Guard troops.
It is difficult to understand if, how and when renters are to return to New Orleans anytime soon. The Road Home Program is for homeowners not renters. Rents in New Orleans have skyrocketed. Four public housing projects have been targeted for destruction. Prior to Katrina more than 5000 families lived in public housing and as of July, HUD reports 1100 public housing units are occupied.“Since the storm, most of the complexes have been closed, some surrounded by fences and razor wire.”
(metal covers over 1st floor doors and windows at a NOLA public housing project…photo scout August 2006)
So what is being done?
According to WWL Nagin sent a letter to HUD last week asking “to immediately place a thousand units into service and open an additional thousand units with in 90 days. Nagin also asked that 750 scattered sites, possibly using modular homes, be set up.”
Again from WWL, last Friday the National Housing Partnership Foundation announced plans to build 3,000 units by 2009 and on Thursday the “Louisiana Housing Authority approved $80 million in tax credits to help developers build nearly 7,000 units” in LA, most of which to be built in the New Orleans area.
Finally the plan is to build 1853 units of mixed income housing on the sites of the public projects to be razed which housing advocates believe is unnecessary as the projects are slavagable. They also believe rents for such will be prohibitive for many.
UPDATE: Late today from WWL…
New Orleans housing developments won’t be torn down all at once, but instead in phases so that low-income residents can have a place to live while the developments are re-worked, Mayor Ray Nagin said Monday.
There were no details provided