What We Can Learn About Housing From New Orleans

By Daisy Hernandez Apr 07, 2010

Former ColorLines editor Tram Nguyen went to New Orleans to investigate the demolition of public housing and chronicle how activists there are demanding housing as a human right. Here’s a bit from her reporting at ColorLines.com:

Community advocates estimate that almost 20,000 people, all Black and low-income, remain displaced and separated from their communities. Worse, the 4,500 or so Big Four households have been thrown into a tight rental market, competing with thousands more low-income people also living precariously in a city where rents spiked almost overnight. This includes nearly 9,000 families transitioning out of the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, which provided subsidies for people whose homes were destroyed by hurricanes Katrina, Rita or Gustav. In New Orleans, “there are more people who are scared of losing their housing than feel secure in it,” observes Eric Tars, an attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. He could have said the same about the rest of the country, where the combination of widespread foreclosures, rising tenant evictions and double-digit unemployment hitting like hurricanes is pushing the lack of adequate housing to crisis proportions. According to the National Housing Institute, nearly half of all renters in the United States face unaffordable housing costs, defined as paying more than 30 percent of one’s income for housing.

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