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August, 2006

Speakers for a New America

Housing Crisis in New Orleans
Ted Quant
Ted Quant

Ted Quant, Director of the New Orleans Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice shared these thoughts on the city's housing crisis:

"New Orleans was wiped out by the storm and the houses haven't been rebuilt. So thousands of people have no houses to return to. Those who have the means are paying exorbitant rents. Many landlords here are not big capitalists who own giant apartment buildings. Many are working class and lower middle class people who owned "shotgun" houses -- where the landlord lives on one side and rents out the other side.

"In the Lower 9th Ward, many Blacks owned their homes, bought and paid for when there were many unionized jobs in industry and on the river. (Louisiana was once highly unionized and is the only state to defeat 'Right to Work' legislation in the deep South.) Their children inherited the houses. Many shotgun doubles were mortgaged and people still owe that money. Many were not insured or underinsured. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is denying or delaying rebuilding loans, and they no longer have tenants whose rent helped pay the mortgage. They can't rebuild and provide housing for themselves or for renters who desperately need it.

"Making things more desperate, HUD has decided to demolish public housing developments, like the Lafette Housing Development where 800 families lived. That development was not severely damaged. The residents fighting for their community are being locked out. The poor are scattered all over the country, running out of FEMA money, and unemployment benefits, and their voices are excluded from rebuilding planning processes. There are jobs here, but where are you going to stay? The poor are piling up with relatives who didn't get flooded. So the housing question is desperate and complex."

Ted Quant is available to speak through Speakers for a New America. Call 800-691-6888, or e-mail info@speakersforanewamerica.com.

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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