Demolition of Public Housing Approved

Despite protests at New Orleans City Hall last December, the city council voted unanimously for a federal plan that will demolish 4,500 public housing units in favor of developing fewer units on a mixed-income model. With rents increased by up to 45 percent for the new units, former public housing residents are calling city officials to repair and reopen the existing units so that the homeless and displaced can move back into places they can afford.

Church leaders and housing activists have challenged the council’s decisions. Charles Jen­kins, the Epis­co­pal bishop of Louisiana, stated in an open letter to the council, “[T]he issue before us is about people, not buildings, and it is primarily a moral issue.” He pointed out that the city’s homeless population has nearly doubled since Hurricanes Rita and Katrina—from 6,300 to 12,000 people—and urged the council to develop alternative sites for the mixed-income housing since the shortage of low-income housing will worsen once the 30,000 people still occupying government-owned trailers are moved out.

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