MOSAIC NOLA:The Gentilly Project

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Today's Housing Issues in New Orleans

"They're focused over there," she said, gesturing toward the relative bustle of the city's French Quarter and Uptown district, where restaurants have opened and residents have returned. "They should be here, where we need help." - Reuters News today, quoting Mabel Howard, 77-year-old grandmother, resident of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.

Even among those who care about what happened to New Orleans residents, I've seen a tendency to think too much in the long run. The most critical period is in weeks and months, not in years. I've heard a joke where one economist, who is very theoretical and pays little attention to world, makes an observation about what is going to happen, based on what his models tell him. He says to a public audience: "In the long run, the economy will all be for the better." Almost immediately, someone in the crowd calls out: "In the long run, we will all be dead! Tell us about now."

Right now in New Orleans, judges will soon be capping evictions to 1000 per day so that they have a chance to process them. I appreciate that there's an urgency to "get back to normal" quickly, but how can the rights of owners be balanced with the rights of renters (renters who in this case might have no knowledge of the coming proceedings, or might be unable to return based on where they have been displaced). Must this be legal combat between the interests of owners versus the interest of renters?

Obviously, governments shouldn't do everything, but they can provide an environment where addressable problems (like those of Mabel Howard) might be solved. And governments can intervene such that we aren't reduced to raw legal combat - which typically benefits those who have relative to those who don't. Some suffering and legal disputes are inevitable following catastrophes like Katrina, but a whole lot more happens than necessary when various branches of governments don't balance efficiency and compassion.

And FEMA is apparently going to end its Katrina-related temporary housing programs on December 1. Housing issues are now, not the long run.


  • Katrina has put upon us a time where a much needed monumental shift can take place for mankind. We have already seen what has happened to our country because money has become our God. This has to be a campaign to NOT buy the money the humanity God!

    The outcome of Katrina will be a shining example of one or the other. Let's hope humanity wins!

    By Blogger Patty Ann Smith, at 11:07 AM  

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