This column by Jarvis DeBerry is required reading.
The issues of the poor often intersect with those who are racially oppressed, but not always. We see the conflicts between the two groups when black people with money wage campaigns against those who are without.
Eastern New Orleans has often been a battleground for this kind of intra-racial class warfare because that part of the city has included beautiful mansions and huge unsightly apartment complexes -- one of which I used to call home. Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis gave the impression soon after Hurricane Katrina that she spoke for the entire area when she trumpeted the phrase "right to return."
She's fought mightily for homeowners -- that is, those who have already acquired some semblance of wealth. However, she has shown herself to be indifferent -- if not outright opposed -- to the interests of low-wage residents who require affordable-housing options to return to the city.
In leading the opposition against a developer looking to build 36 affordable single-family houses near Lake Carmel at an average cost of $200,000, Willard-Lewis said the interests of current residents are her chief concern. So much for everybody else returning.
The City Planning Commission voted 6-2 to approve the legal subdivision developer Harold Foley needs to start his project. The New Orleans City Council, however, voted 5-2 against the project. The only two members to show Foley support were James Carter and Shelley Midura.
In voting against the project, the City Council isn't showing itself to be any different than the St. Bernard Parish Council, which has twice been scolded by a federal court judge for violating the Fair Housing Act.
The judge found that St. Bernard officials have withheld a routine re-subdivision request for a developer planning to build apartments because parish officials are trying to keep out black people.
The City Council is employing the same strategy St. Bernard officials have used. It's difficult to imagine a judge looking any more kindly on the city's blockade of this project. The federal court would be unfairly punishing St. Bernard if it allowed New Orleans to do the same thing.