Tuesday, June 20, 2006

HUD to New Orleans Poor:
"Go F(ind Housing) Yourself"

By Bill Quigley*

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced it plans to demolish more than 5,000 public housing apartments in New Orleans. In August 2005, there were 7,381 public apartments in New Orleans. Now HUD says it has 1,000 apartments open and promises to repair and open another 1,000 in a couple of months. After months of rumors, HUD confirmed its intention to demolish all the remaining apartments.

HUD's demolition plans leave thousands of families with no hope of returning to New Orleans where rental housing is scarce and costly. In New Orleans, public housing was occupied by women, mostly working, and their children, as well as the elderly and disabled.

Demolition of public housing in New Orleans is not a new idea. When Katrina displaced New Orleans public housing residents, the Wall Street Journal reported U.S. Congressman Richard Baker, a 10-term Republican from Baton Rouge, telling lobbyists:
"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
Despite HUD's promise to demolish homes, the right of people to return to New Orleans is slowly being recognized as a human rights issue. According to international law, the victims of Katrina are "internally displaced persons" because they were displaced within their own country as a result of natural disaster. Principle 28 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement requires that the U.S. government recognize the human right of displaced people to return home.

Read Bill Quigley's whole report here.

* Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and professor at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law. You can reach him at Quigley@loyno.edu


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