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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

When Tearing Down Public Housing Might Be a Bad Idea

posted by on April 9 at 15:26 PM

When you haven’t exactly nailed down how you’re going to replace it.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) successfully (and controversially) pushed last year to tear down several thousand units of public housing in New Orleans after Katrina—even though much of the housing had not been damaged in the post-hurricane floods. The units, which housed more than 5,000 people, were supposed to be replaced with “mixed-income” housing by a private developer. In the meantime, tenants would have to make do with (toxic) FEMA trailers.

Except, whoops, the national housing credit crunch is making HUD’s plan, which relies heavily on private financing, look less likely:

The rapid decline in financial markets has upset plans developers made last year to remake the public housing developments with a mix of public and private money. Since the City Council voted to demolish the complexes late last year, a spiraling credit crisis has made banks uneasy about making new loans. Meanwhile, the value of low-income housing tax credits that will be used to finance the projects has declined.

In recent weeks, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, the state entity handling the award of tax credits, has said that any affordable housing developers who have not yet closed on their financing plans may find themselves unable to do so. […]

In December, Mayor Ray Nagin required developers to submit copies of financing plans before the city would issue demolition permits, but those were not signed deals proving that the financing was actually in place.

The Times-Picayune filed a public records request for copies of the financing plans submitted by each developer, but the mayor’s office did not make them available within three days as required by law.

So impoverished former public-housing residents may find themselves SOL, thanks to the short-sighted actions of a disgraced former housing secretary (Alphonso Jackson, who resigned in March) and a controversial mayor who refused to help public-housing residents return to their homes after Katrina hit.

Via Facing South.

RSS icon Comments


Posted by Liston | April 9, 2008 3:33 PM

the lives and fates of poor, black people in New Orleans has never been high on the list of Bush Mis-administration priorities.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 9, 2008 3:33 PM

Are those people every going to stop being fucked over?

Posted by Westside forever | April 9, 2008 3:36 PM

Considering that the Housing Project in question is RIGHT ACROSS the street from the French Quarter... one could hardly blame the location, location, location, real estate factor.

Condos anyone?

"House Republican campaign chief Reynolds touts chance to market conservative social-policy solutions; Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

Posted by Colton | April 9, 2008 3:54 PM

Anyone who thinks that they ever had any intention of rebuilding ANY public housing on that site is naive in the extreme.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | April 9, 2008 4:21 PM

385 days and a wakeup.

George Bush and his comrades hate Black People.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 9, 2008 5:08 PM

Isn't this exactly what Naomi Klein wrote about years ago? Why, *still*, does nobody care?

Posted by Cow | April 9, 2008 5:10 PM

Maybe they can just relocate them to those empty condos towers in Miami (or really most other American cities) that were created by the loose lending and bubble mania that brought us this credit crisis in the first place.

Posted by Jeff | April 9, 2008 5:39 PM

@#4 - the projects in question are not on the edge of the French Quarter, they are spread through neighborhoods relatively far from the tourist district. They are planning improvements to the project (Iberville) near the quarter AFTER the other projects are underway/finished. They will eliminate some units, but high density poverty is not a good thing, at least here in New Orleans it isn't. But hey, what do I know, I live here and have a Master of Urban and Regional Planning.

Posted by chris in new orleans | April 9, 2008 5:59 PM

@9: did you ever work at Cafe Pontalba?

Posted by gnossos | April 9, 2008 9:32 PM

@10: No I have never worked at Cafe Pontalba. Sorry.

Posted by chris in new orleans | April 10, 2008 5:30 AM

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