Last week HUD unveiled its largest plans to date to restructure the city of New Orleans by eliminating four of the city’s ten housing projects, St. Bernard, BW Cooper, CJ Pete and Laffite. For the tens of thousands of you folks who used to live there and are trying to come back to New Orleans, sorry, but the feds have decided in their wisdom that the places that you lived for decades need to be redesigned so as to serve you (and, more importantly, some prominent developers and property owners) better. Sorry if this causes any inconvenience, such as being homeless for the next five or six years while we rebuild.
Last week Scott Keller of HUD graced the city of New Orleans with his presence (Alphonse Jackson was apparently too busy) at a particularly high-spiritied city council meeting, which the Dirty South Bureau caught the second half of. Props to City Council newcomer Arnie Feilkow for challenging the arrogance of the federal government’s unilateral decision making process.
Of course HUD has everyone’s best interests in mind. But for those of you who are still skeptical, we need only look at the success that River Gardens, the former St. Thomas development, has been- such a success that Alphonse Jackson said in November that River Gardens would be the model for the future of public housing in New Orleans.
Perhaps the best available study of what is really going on with these redevelopments is New Orleanian Brod Bagert jr.’s 2002 master’s thesis on the St. Thomas redevelopment.
That’s right. We don’t warehouse the poor any more- not when we find that those warehouses are sitting on prime real estate. And these “icons of failed federal policy” in Keller’s words, will be going to the wrecking ball to make way for the a newer, whiter, more affluent New Orleans- oh, and one with more big-box superstores.
Meanwhile, a group of former public housing residents is camping on the middle of St. Bernard avenue. DSB had a chance to speak with former St. Bernard resident Pamela Mahogany.
Pamela Mahogany interview
Portions of these interviews were played on Brian Denzer’s Community Gumbo on WTUL- New Orleans Saturday, June 17th, and some of this audio is also available on bayoubuzz.com