Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Orleans Housing in 1960

I've just started reading a book called New Orleans After the Promises: Poverty, Citizenship, and the Search for the Great Society. It is by Kent B. Germany.

Here is a passage from pages 32 and 33 that struck me:

Housing was woefully inadequate. The local Urban League identified it as "the No. 1 social problem in New Orleans." [citation] The Louisiana Statistical Abstract indicated that, in 1960, 28 percent of the city's 202,643 housing units were "deteriorating or dilapidated," and the subtropical climate ate away at the rest. [citation] The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) estimated that over fifty thousand black families were living in substandard housing, which included "gross overcrowding," several families sharing one outdoor toilet, multiple families using one kitchen, constant leaks, poor lighting, unsafe stairs, and rats. The rent for such amenities averaged from ten to sixteen dollars per week. The relocations required by Downtown construction of a new Civic Center, Union Railroad Terminal, and a massive Mississippi River bridge had aggravated an already troubled housing situation. Mayor Morrison attempted to solve these problems by seeking more federal housing money, encouraging individuals to rehabilitate their properties, and creating the Department of Housing Improvement and Slum Prevention. Of these, the public housing efforts were the most productive. According to HANO's tenant relations adviser in March 1964, the only recent construction of new housing for the poor was nine thousand public housing units. [citation]


Sounds awfully familiar.

In the year 2008, I would argue that a lack of adequate affordable housing is the city's most pressing social need. I don't think many would disagree that an unacceptable percentage of the housing units in the city are piles of rubble or are badly damaged or are otherwise out of commerce. I think it is clear that relocations (formaldehyde-inspired and otherwise) are aggravating the situation.

It is also obvious that Mayor Morrison is attempting to solve.... wait. Mayor Nagin is obviously trying to solve the crisis by....

....Shit.

KABOOM. Empty lots are a great place to pitch a tent.

Please sir, may we have another?

9 comments:

Puddinhead said...

Woo-hoo!! NOLA's path to prosperity!! Build lots of new public housing projects!

jeffrey said...

Same as it ever was. Great post, E but that's become par for the course around here.

Oh and happy birthday.

jeffrey said...

Also..

In a lot of ways, 'ol Dellasoups was the Nagin of his day... or maybe the Roemer of his say. Not quite as bad but similarly phony.

jeffrey said...

I put the apostrophe in the wrong place above. Okay that's enough commenting over here for today. Need to leave room for Leigh.

oyster said...

Happy B-day!

Leigh C. said...

Ooooh, I've started reading that book, too. Maybe we can get a book group together over it and hold it at City Hall.

Oh, and Yom Huledet Sameach, dude!

Leigh C. said...

Apparently, Chep Morrison once owned my house. Maybe we oughta hold the book club over there instead...

bayoustjohndavid said...

"Of these, the public housing efforts were the most productive. According to HANO's tenant relations adviser in March 1964, the only recent construction of new housing for the poor was nine thousand public housing units. "

That sounds about the opposite of Nagin. Revisionism about St. Chep is probably long overdue, but:

The relocations required by Downtown construction of a new Civic Center, Union Railroad Terminal, and a massive Mississippi River bridge had aggravated an already troubled housing situation.

sounds like what happened all over the country.

E said...

Amazing how the free market has never really provided for affordable housing.