The Road To Nowhere

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Louisiana’s frustrating Road Home program continues to give the shaft to people who’ve worked all their lives and owned their homes, to lose them in New Orleans’ flooding and during Katrina and Rita. They’re being treated as common criminals complete with mug shots and fingerprinting when all they want is to rebuild their homes.

And New Orleans’ depleted health care system has been dealt another blow from BushCo-supported disaster capitalism.

So these stories need to get national attention, because they’re about things that could strangle the comeback of a beautiful, historic city.  

According to this diary, New Orleans’ homeless even include homeowners, and this is not surprising, judging from how the Road Home program has been operating. See the distressing story of how Catherine Clark, a senior citizen, is denied the Road Home grant she’d been expecting in the Times Picayune. In the article her treatment is described as “Kafkaesque” which is most appropriate–one reads in the article how

Never in her 69 years had Clark expected government handouts. But she didn’t consider this a handout. She considered it just compensation for property destroyed by the collapse of shoddily built federal levees. And for the first time in her life, she desperately needed the help: Retired and on a fixed income, she couldn’t build a new home without it, and she couldn’t get on with her life without a home.

For more than a year, she had bought into the program’s reassurances — the money would come soon, any day now — but now she started to doubt it might ever come.

Her situation has had a deleterious effect on her mental health:

With her former neighbors and friends from the Lower 9th Ward scattered, Clark has few friends her age and has come to rely more heavily than she’d like on family and members of her church. She has started seeing a psychiatrist, something foreign and humbling for a tough-minded senior citizen, a Charity Hospital nurse for 28 years and a widow who raised nine children……

….In November, Clark mustered the energy to drop in on a Road Home closing office in Clearview Mall in Metairie, hoping she could demand some answers.

“I didn’t even get in the door,” Clark said. “There was a table in front, with some employees and a security guard and they just said, ‘This is for appointments only.’ “

And b.rox corroborates Clark’s story about checkpoints at Road Home offices. For in his and his wife’s initial appointment for a Road Home grant, he adds that not only were there checkpoints, but they also had to be fingerprinted and have their mugshots taken. This sounds like something that would happen either to common criminals, or in a police state. And I wonder if, were Road Home not spending so much on security and on those other humiliating things, how much more money they’d have to hand out in grants?

And on top of Road Home’s continuing snafus, a much-needed medical clinic is not scheduled to re-open. Per this piece on the Lindy Boggs Medical Center by Nightprowlkitty, developers are planning on building a strip mall on the property.

This sounds to me like disaster capitalism as described by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine at its very worst–keep needed health care facilities in short supply, which will make them not only harder to find but more expensive, result in the worsening of the illnesses of and/or bring about the demise of people needing medical care who can’t find it, and put the kibbosh on the return of the poor to New Orleans.

The Road Home, and the closing of the much-needed medical center, are the sorts of things that shouldn’t be happening in America. And that progressive Americans including us Kossacks should not remain silent about. We should demand attention loud and long to what’s been going in in New Orleans that the media and politicians (both Republican and Democratic) have been silent on.

If all of the above aren’t reasons New Orleans news needs to be front-paged, and the mainstream media should pay more attention, I don’t know what would be. Maybe if a New Orleans blond went missing…or a tiger at the New Orleans zoo attacked.

6 comments

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  1. over these stories, because I used to live in NOLA and still love it. It’s just making me crazy that this crap is going on and on and on and no one seems to care. And for weeks I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out what to do about the situation there. I’d be happy to write about it, but the major magazines don’t seem to be interested, so I’m not sure how to get people to pay attention. Suggestions are most welcome, though!    

  2. “I’m Proud To Be An American” song, Lee Greenwood?

    Try writing it underwater.

    While you’re drowning.

    Let me know how that works it for you.

    You can reach me at Rustad2@aol.com.

    Thanks.  

  3. It all seems deliberate to deprive those that have been deprived by Katrina.

    It’s sickening and a dreadful statement of this country.

    • kj on January 4, 2008 at 2:36 am

    That was followed by the Dec. 6 phone call that brought back painful memories of a lost child and drove Clark to the depths. Her daughter-in-law, who describes herself as “a very aggressive person,” started hassling the title company, HGI Catastrophe Services, repeatedly dialing random extensions at its LaPlace headquarters until she got a warm body on the other end of the line, then faxing documents showing the liens should have no bearing on her grant.

    What do you think, the daughter-in-law called the newspaper?  I bet she did.  Bravo

    The Times-Picayune reporter David Hammer’s email and phone number are on the last page of the article Louisiana 1976 linked to above, if anyone wants to get in touch with him.  

  4. knew what it means to miss New Orleans.

    I do.  I hope everyone else will also.

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