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Saturday, December 15

Congressional Democrats Get Involved in Public Housing

This public housing issue isn't going away as quietly as HANO and HUD would like it to. On Thursday night, it seemed as if there was no way to avoid imminent demolition. But there has been a flurry of activity over the last day:

  1. As Rob blogged about yesterday, HANO and the plaintiffs (representing public housing residents) agreed on a deal by which the City Council would decide the fate of three of the housing projects. While this represents an advance for the residents, it probably won't change the end result significantly. At least 3 Council members have decided to vote for redevelopment, with strong support for the 1-for-1 return plan to Lafitte. It would be a significant victory if Lafitte features a 1-for-1 (every family who lived there is accounted for with a new unit) return rate. But the other projects do not have the same sort of redevelopment plans, and the City Council still seems unlikely to force their hands to 1-for-1.

  2. The Democratic Leaders in the House and Senate have written to President Bush, urging him to stop the demolition of housing while more of the issues are worked out. This catapults the issue to the national level, which will hopefully put some more coverage on the issue. But it's important to note that even these Dems didn't ask for the residents to be allowed to return immediately; their letter asks for a 60-day moratorium in order to work out a plan for replacing affordable housing. The letter also connects the homeless--in Duncan Plaza, under I-10, and everywhere else--to the lack of affordable housing.
    Congress this year has done a lot of frustrating things, and hasn't accomplished as much as Democrats hoped it would. But reading this letter actually gives me a twinkle of pride that there are actually some politicians left in Congress (not named Barack Obama) who care about the poor and displaced down here. I hope Congress can make some change on this.

Keep reading the blog over break for updates.

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