Monday, March 24, 2008

No bedroom, communal bath, central location!

Late last week, Mayor Nagin noted the importance of challenging the latest census estimates, that peg the population of New Orleans at a mere 240,000.

The city's own estimate has our population at 300,000.

That 60,000 person discrepancy could cost the city $56 million in federal aid that is supposed help the city cover social service expenses.

City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said she suspects that the Census Bureau also failed to take into account what she called "double-up" and "triple-up" households where two and three families have been forced to live under the same roof while storm repairs drag on.

Although the city has six months to submit data to support its appeal, Plyer and Rigamer said they expect to complete their work in about a month. They said their challenge will cite information from a range of sources, including building permits, utility accounts, school enrollment figures and residences receiving mail.

Nagin said the census flap is just the latest example of communication challenges that New Orleans has had with the federal government since Katrina.

"It just doesn't make sense to me that we're not getting the benefit of the doubt on some of these things," he said. "I don't get it. I really don't."

Ray Nagin, you are a stupid, stupid man.

I wish the city just got the benefit of the doubt too. I think most people around the nation would be happy to give us the benefit of the doubt. Why don't we get the benefit of the doubt?

I think it might be BECAUSE OF YOU, Mr. Nagin. It is the contradictory actions of you and our other officials. It is our inability to support our own recovery process that contributes to the hesitancy of the federal government.

When it comes to feds, our city is being victimized by their willful negligence of the crises being faced by our citizens. This time, Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell aptly points out one of them:

she suspects that the Census Bureau also failed to take into account what she called "double-up" and "triple-up" households where two and three families have been forced to live under the same roof while storm repairs drag on.

Sounds familiar. Sounds like an affordable housing crisis. Weird.

Because that's something the city doesn't seem all that interested in alleviating.

Even though it appears to be getting worse. This HUGE Times-Picayune piece explains how the national housing market has threatened funding for 46% of the metro area's ongoing affordable housing construction projects...



In the New Orleans area, about 31 of 77 projects have not yet closed on their financing, and may find it more difficult to make the numbers work. Those projects, including the replacements for the public housing developments that are being demolished, represent about 46 percent of the 9,779 units that are on the drawing board for the five parishes that make up the New Orleans area.


Why do the feds seem so content to downplay the city's needs? Maybe it's because we did the same exact thing to ourselves when we hastily approved a poorly developed giveaway of our public housing stock....


How long can people crash on the floors of generous family members? How long can people sustain "doubling" and "tripling" occupancy of their homes for their neighbors?

What if you don't have family to stay with? What if your family is still in Baton Rouge, Atlanta, or Houston? What if exposing yourself to formaldehyde poisoning in your temporary trailer becomes unbearable? Where are you supposed to go?

Last month, Ray Nagin wrote a letter to President Bush questioning FEMA's emergency trailer resident relocation plan. Here is what he said:

"Because of the scope of the damage to New Orleans' housing stock, much of which is still not recovered, there is insufficient housing here to place all New Orleans citizens needing to be relocated from trailers. Indeed, FEMA's strategy will lead only to a second great displacement, as current trailer residents will be moved from New Orleans to apartments and hotels elsewhere in the Gulf Coast region.

According to federal analysis, Katrina damaged 67% of the rental housing stock and 76% of the owner-occupied housing in New Orleans. Recovery programs designed to bring back housing have not gained traction to date."

So clearly, Mayor Nagin understands the challenges his citizens face. He acknowledges the crises facing the housing market and how that affects the ability of his citizens to rebuild their own homes or to find affordable rental housing. Yeah?

Nope... Nagin understands the housing crisis only when it suits him. He empathizes with the victims of that crisis when it is politically convenient. Like when he can score easy points against FEMA and the Bush administration. Or when it costs the city federal funding streams.

Other times, Nagin sees the camps of homeless people under I-10 and fails to connect the dots. The people there are 'those people.' He demonstrated his understanding of the affordable housing crisis by it's victims with jail time via the enforcement of 'public habitation laws.'

In one breath, he criticizes the injustices of FEMA's emergency relocation plan because of the lack of affordable public housing. In another breath, he scalds the homeless for their laziness.

Nagin's inexplicable threat to jail victims of the same housing crisis that he cites in his letter to the President was so inhumane, so logistically untenable, so legally questionable that the Bush administration sent a representative to urge the Mayor to reconsider.

It's no wonder you're not being given the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Nagin. It's no wonder the feds are reluctant to part ways with funds that you say you need for the city's multiple social services challenges while your own policies ignore those same exact challenges and punish its victims.

Be well, Mr. Mayor.
I'd be happy to eat your knuckle sandwich in exchange for your resignation.
Right now, you seem to be using the whole city as your personal punching bag.

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