Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Orleans Residents Fight Demolitions

Residents of New Orleans are fighting a plan approved by New Orleans City Council to demolish 4,500 public housing units. Going along with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City is arguing that it wants to replace units damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with new mixed-income housing.
Critics of the plan have argued it would further restrict the stock of affordable housing, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
“It is beyond callous, and can only be seen as malicious discrimination,” said Kali Akuno of the Coalition to Stop the Demolition. “It is an unabashed attempt to eliminate the black population of New Orleans.”
In December, police used pepper spray and stun guns on workers and residents who came to City Hall to protest the proposal to destroy housing. Several people were treated for the effects of the pepper spray.
Politicians and supporters of the planned demolition argue developers will take advantage of tax breaks and build new neighbourhoods with portions of low-income housing. These arguments were similar to those used at Regent Park, where demolition has started in order to make way for ‘mixed income’ housing which will have some 400-500 less subsidized rental units.