Brangelina Pledge to Re-Open All the Public Housing in New Orleans

Buy purchasing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for an undisclosed cash figure… 

Ok, so that’s not true, but I’m trying to catch up on all the latest in NOLA, and the two main threads in my inbox – a) the (temporary, don’t forget!) relocation of the world’s second most famous couple and b) the fight to re-open public housing – are quite the pairing.  Throw in the rising, spastic, terrifying crime wave rolling across the city, and the Saints’s thrilling, astounding arrival in the NFL playoffs, and NOLA has its hands full, per usual, as Mardi Gras approaches. 

As expected, US Weekly is already hinting at an Angelina backlash, and it’s clear to me I should leave the celebrity coverage to the experts.  (CLICK THROUGH THIS LINK AND BOOKMARK IT!)  I’ll move on from this topic by admitting sheepish confusion over Brangelina’s relocation.  Like them, I’m always trying to shed light on situations folks would rather ignore – the atrocious lack of coordinated support to rebuild New Orleans, being one such topic – but I can’t help but feel chagrined anyway by the addition of NOLA to their global humanitarian circuit.  Certainly they’ll be adopting a cast-out Lafitte or St. Bernard child next?  Despite their best and hopefully well-funded intentions, I feel rather cheap being in the same “do-gooder” category as them.  Hopefully their arrival is not just another move in the already energetic direction of privatizing the entire recovery of the city.  They might take a cue from another “activist” peer George Clooney, and start haranging their government (from Nagin on up) to devote some leadership and targeted spending to rebuilding the city.

Meanwhile, the blogosphere left keeps up the coverage of the fight for public housing, and Think New Orleans has published the recently community-crafted “Principles of Public Housing.”  If you’ve been following this struggle at all (even just here at the RP) or have any familiarity with affordable housing issues, then these principles are as expected:

  • the right to return,
  • the right to equal participation in community-driven rebuilding for renters, public housing residents, etc.
  • immediate reoccupation and phased redevelopment of the housing stock to give folks a place to live during rebuilding,
  • de-isolating public housing from surrounding communities,
  • avoiding demolition in favor of more sensible and cost-effective redevelopment,
  • providing critical support services for the low-income residents of public housing.   

The latest news is that activists and former residents have re-occupied St. Bernard,

St. Bernard Housing Development 

cleaning it out, reclaiming possessions, etc.  These principles appear to have been developed and adopted in this latest round of activity, and demonstrate the on-going efforts of a dispersed but dedicated group of individuals committing to not only saving these viable, structurally-sound buildings (MIT-inspected!) and communities, but also the broader principles of affordable housing that are increasingly under threat across the U.S.  

So I suppose we should root for the Saints, for Pitt’s Babel in the upcoming Oscars, if only to continue to keep our fleeting national attention on New Orleans.  Whatever it takes.  As any savvy celeb knows, all publicity is good publicity…right Angie?


2 Responses to “Brangelina Pledge to Re-Open All the Public Housing in New Orleans”

  1. January 19, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks for the link. Thanks for reading. I posted the Principles of Public and Affordable Housing to show that we’re all very concerned about housing. We’re not ready to bulldoze these historic structures without serious inquiry into their condition (which looks great by post-Katrina standards). We’re being told that it need to go on the most feeble anecdotal evidence.

    People are occupying the St. Bernard housing. It was a really exciting day for people that had been debating the fate of the evacuees.

    You’ll have to be patient with the citizens of New Orleans, though. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we have to fund the recovery of our homes on our own. We know that money has been released to us, be we have not seen it.

    It sure makes us look heartless, but we’re all getting the run around. I feel though, that so many people are so frustrated, there is real common cause between public housing renters, evacuees, homeowners, and renters. We’ve all been lied to.

    I’m really looking for a way to bring the same sort of neighborhood organization that we’ve used to defend our neighborhoods to public housing residents.

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