Yesterday, in New Orleans, protesters tried to stop the city council from voting for demolition of four large project complexes that presently have 4500 livable units. Instead, they are opting for the tax credit profiteering of the HUD office and are replacing the communities with 'mixed income housing' to the tune of 744 units. No plan for temporary housing, no plan for allowing people who lived there to come back (it's called "the right of return"). Let's take a moment and think on this for a moment . . .
Yes, the police used pepperspray against the people trying to pile into City Council chambers but, hey, they had to, right? But why should City Council be comfortable only having to look out at the 300 available seats? They should feel the dis-ease of overcrowding, if nothing more than to understand the unimaginably dismissive posture they've adopted. It can all be summed up in this quote:
HUD wants to demolish the buildings, most of them damaged by Hurricane Katrina, so developers can take advantage of tax credits and build new mixed-income neighborhoods.
The council's approval of the demolition is required under the city's charter.
HUD says the redevelopment, in the works before Katrina hit, will mark an end to the city's failed public housing experiment that lumped the poor into crime-ridden complexes and marooned them outside the life of the rest of the city.
Aw, HUD. Who knew the federal government cared so much about public housing? Yep, now is the perfect time to talk about its failed experiment (as if any of us would disagree). Hours later, the demolition was unanimously approved, whereas before there were council members hedging, their conscience tearing at their souls.
I guess seeing people protest and violence break out was enough to want them all gone, eh? See pictures of the demolition as citizens are protesting. It really can't get anymore cruel than shrinking housing at the time when it's so desperately needed and so scarce. All they asked is for temporary housing until there can be 1:1 placement. And to be able to come home.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we here in Pittsburgh's Historic Hill District cannot let a rich, white, corporation with a billionaire owner, host itself in our neighborhood, take up all of our parking spots and not give much of anything back in terms of proper reinvestment to a poor, Black, working-class community. Even if you don't believe, we believe. We have a dream and, yes, it does take money.
We won't repeat the defeat from 50 years ago, when "Hurricane Civic Arena" displaced thousands of residents and never replaced the housing the way they said they would---and then engaged in benign neglect after residents got mad at the broken promises and engaged in riots during the 1960's. It's cause and effect, folks.
And I could not be more proud of the people of New Orleans for protesting, even passionately so. Indeed, it shows me that global warming is a real and welcomed effort.
Extreme, Visionary Kindness
"He Had a Dream" But at least this is real. When I entered graduate school, we read a book on teaching with a statement I've never forgotten---"students will float to the mark you set". To tell a group of third graders that they will be going to college is phenomenal and wonderful because the prison industrial complex is determined by third grade reading scores. Yes. So, either you will believe and assist in these kids' education---or many of them will be going to prison. Plain and simple. I'm not surprised this column is from Marc Fisher from The Washington Post. I'm thinking maybe the PG posted it because it involves the word "Promise", as in "Pittsburgh Promise". We'll see.
In the meantime, at least the University of Pittsburgh brought back the "Upward Bound" program, which helps high school students prepare for college. With an initial grant from the U.S. Department of Education of approximately $485,000 for its first year, it will serve 112 students who will be the first in their generation to attend college. If the program meets their objectives, it will be funded for an additional three years. Good. It actually works.