Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Creating a New Orleans shantytown?

Not exactly about squatters, but about a plan of social engineering that seems destined to create squatters: The New Orleans Housing Authority, which is now managed by the federal government, plans to prevent tenants who do not have a job or have no prospect of a job from moving back into their homes. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that three members of the City Council have endorsed the plan.

"At some point there has to be a whole new level of motivation, and people have got to stop blaming the government for something they ought to do." That's City Council President Oliver Thomas talking.

Now wait a sec. This is a city where politicians and public authorities failed to do their jobs. Piles of trash and debris still line many streets. No electricity in many neighborhoods. No phone service too. They haven't made a deal to get thousands of trailers installed so people can move back.

Can somebody say chutzpah? There's no question that people who move back to New Orleans are going to have to work hard to rebuild their lives and their city. But they are the victims here. Demonizing them before they get back home is downright ugly.


Anonymous said...

I am a master's student at York University, Toronto, Canada. I just finished reading Shadow Cities for a book review. I thought it was a thoughtful book, written for a Western audience that has a lot of prejudiced interpretations of poverty related to crime and to lack of self-reliance.


rn said...

Sadly, we in the West do have a massive number of prejudices. Thanks for your comment.

e-tat said...

The story of post-Katrina New Orleans includes a variety of themes around issues of exclusion, gentrification, purification and so on. These, in and of themselves, have potential in a critical analysis of new urbanism. Are you aware of anyone working on somethig of the sort, or at least collating these stories with a view to broader analysis?

PS: this blog is much appreciated. Thank you for putting the time into it.

rn said...

Sadly, e-tat, I don't know anything on New Orleans that's being done with much passion--and passion is what's needed right now.