Friday, September 30, 2005

HUD Secretary goes Procul Harum on New Orleans

"it's not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again." [Washington Times]
Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of HUD in the Bush Administration, has announced he anticipates that New Orleans will be turning a whiter shade of pale in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. Unfortunately, many fear that the plan for gulf coast reconstruction has always been to gentrify the area which would price the majority of the original residents (poor and predominantly black) out of the market hindering their return to the area. This has been compounded by the fact that during hurricane Rita, it's believed a better effort was put into fixing the 17th Street Canal which is surrounded by an upscale area in comparison to the Industrial Canal which protects the poverty-laden and crime-ridden 9th district.
The Lower Ninth is only a part of New Orleans. The city is a patchwork of rich and poor, black and white, dry and wet areas. But it is generally true that the better-off, white-populated neighborhoods are on higher ground, while the poorer areas where many African-Americans live were underwater after Katrina. Many people want to build a smaller New Orleans less prone to flooding. But others see in these plans a plot to drive out blacks from their homes and sacrifice their cultural heritage. Some see the hurricane as a chance to rebuild inner-city neighborhoods without the crime and despair; others want to turn those blighted parts of the city into flood plains (or golf courses). For understandable reasons, the debate is somewhat tortured and, so far, mostly conducted in private or in code. But it has already started to burst out in the open over the future of the Lower Ninth. [MSNBC]
It goes without saying that Mr. Jackson's statement, on the heels of the government's botched response to Katrina, the increased power of real estate moguls in light of the SCotUS eminent domain decision, the utter inanity of the less than virtuous Bill Bennett (who used the aftermath of hurricane Katrina to defend the racist statement he made yesterday) and Freeper comments like this

Rebuild the ninth ward with a 15 feet levee's and a razor wire fence to keep the rabble in. Just don't call it a prison, it's a evacuee reeducation center

Let the law abiding black residents live somewhere else, culturally heritage will come back where ever they settle
lend credence to a belief that the statement comes of more as a goal than a projection. Jackson has indicated his statement comes from urban reconstruction projects that show blacks don't return to the reconstructed areas and that those who wish to might not have the means or opportunity. He treats these as two different populations but it is likely they are one and the same and that, if redevelopment occurs in a reasonable time period, those who don't wish to return because they've established a new life elsewhere are a minority. The reason the majority of blacks do not return is because they are priced out of the market post reconstruction and/or there are not enough employment opportunities for those who have been displaced when people return en masse. In order to stem the tide of permanent flight, it is essential that the local communities (those that have been destroyed) be actively involved in the rebuilding efforts. They must not only be ensured that low cost housing with reasonable taxes are available for them to inhabit upon their return, they must also benefit from the job opportunities that are created as part of the redevelopment programs effort. This is the only way to curtail the poverty that is endemic to those areas and restore New Orleans to a higher level of glory as well as a lower crime rate.

Tags: ; , ; ; ; ; ; ; ;; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: