Wednesday, March 12, 2008

DeBerry Snookered, Repeats Ridiculous Misconception

Yesterday, Jarvis DeBerry, editorial writer for the Times-Picayune wrote an original piece with some unoriginal analysis.

Citing the recent survey that found that eighty-some percent of former public housing residents don't wish to return to their old public housing units, DeBerry extends:

The result of that survey will only surprise you if you've been snookered by the high-pitched arguments made by some espoused housing advocates, the arguments that imply that HANO residents so loved their apartments before the storm that they'd give anything to live there now.

I am getting real tired of this. I'm just not recalling ANY public housing advocate, including the uninformed imports that have undeservedly become a media lighting rod, attempting to argue that Pre-Katrina projects represented adequate permanent housing or that residents loved the conditions there.

The arguments against the demolition of the public housing stock are numerous. I have listed them so many times now, I'll just copy and paste:

Legitimate concerns include the cozy relationship between HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson and the private developers, the acres upon acres of preexisting empty lots owned by HUD and HANO that have yet to see any construction, the affordable housing crisis, the upcoming displacement of tens of thousands due to formaldehyde contamination of FEMA trailers, the homelessness crisis, and so on and so forth.

In fact, I also still have in my hand the list of demands given to the media by the Coalition to Stop the Demolition. You may be shocked to find that it doesn't really demand that the projects be rebuilt as they were before. Mostly, these demands seem to indicate that advocates were chiefly concerned with addressing the city's affordable housing emergency:

I. City Council needs to vote NO on demolition. The Council meeting should be moved to an evening time to accommodate peoples' schedules and allow a full public hearing on demolition before taking a vote.

II. The mayor needs to meet with faith leaders who have requested a meeting with him about the housing crisis in the city.

III. No Demolitions - reopen the existing units and rebuild dignified housing at former public housing sights.

IV. Guaranteed one-to-one replacement for all public housing residents.

V. All available public housing unites should be made available for the homeless and those likely to face homelessness from the pending loss of rent vouchers and trailer recalls.

VI. The Federal government needs to suspend demolition until the investigation of Alphonso Jackson and the contraction process is completed.

VII. Rent Control to provide deeply affordable housing so that all will be able to return to the city.

VIII. Stop the privatization and gentrification of the City.

Now, you may not agree with all of the demands, but you absolutely must admit that they don't really seem to glorify the pre-Katrina conditions of New Orleans public housing, they don't seem to advocate a return to the past. Rather, they seem to demand that the city address the affordable housing crisis that is still ongoing.

Who's really been snookered?

The survey making the rounds as a talking point for those that have favored the demolition process is a null-set. It is largely irrelevant; it does not refute the arguments being made of those that thought the demolition plans were a giveaway to private developers.

I will give Mr. DeBerry credit for mentioning that the survey counteracts the arguments of "some" housing advocates. I'd like to ask which ones.

I have had many problems with the direct action tactics of the Coalition to Stop Demolition. I thought many of their actions were counterproductive and poorly thought out. I still think so. But clearly, their demands were not and are not what the media has portrayed over and over again. One major failure of the Coalition has been their inability to address this misconception.

AHHH, I'm late for work. Bye.

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