Twelve days and counting after Sandy hit on October 29, children, parents, families, the elderly and disabled remain without lights, heat, hot water or power in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).
This is true for houses in Gowanus, Red Hook, the Rockaways, Coney Island and elsewhere.
John Rhea, the chairman of NYCHA, told The Huffington Post that he and the organization have been doing the best they could. Unfortunately, he said, these buildings happened to be located in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane. Yet, power in those hard hit areas has been restored – just not in NYCHA housing.
Mayor Bloomberg has not addressed or remedied the failure of his city’s response. Nor has the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which funds NYCHA in part, sent federal contractors or generators to help coordinate this unacceptable human emergency.
Instead, thousands of individual volunteers, and community-organizing and health organizations like Occupy Sandy, Children’s Health Fund, Masbia Soup Kitchen, Red Hook Initiative, Make the Road NY, CAAAV, Doctor’s Without Borders (launching it’s first effort ever within the United States), and numerous religious institutions have tried to fill in where Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA have failed NYC residents in desperate need.
CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG TODAY: 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675). Tell him the response has been unacceptable.
CALL HUD’s NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS TODAY: (202) 708-1112. Tell Secretary Shaun Donovan that their response has been unacceptable.
How selfish of me to be trying to drag the reader from some lovely spiked eggnog to the nitty gritty of the struggles of others.
My only rationalization is that Christmas is approaching. The whole damned story was about Mary and Joseph not being able to get a room when she was about to have her baby. I believe at the time they were traveling back to Joseph’s hometown for some registration or other. (What’s that cool French phrase that means, “the more things change …”? Cestdelamemchanceorsomethinglikethat.)
So with that admittedly self-serving rationalization, I continue with a story that has grown more and more interesting to me, the public housing issue in New Orleans.
From the indefatigable oyster at Your Right Hand Thief, a pertinent question of what the nature of this public housing will be:
Quoting the Times-Picayune:
Unbowed by days of caustic protests, the New Orleans City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the demolition of four sprawling public housing developments, launching a new era in the troubled history of a social safety net launched in the World War II era.
The unanimous decision, which put to rest some predictions of a racially split vote, handed a major victory to President Bush’s housing aides, who have pushed for mixed-income developments as a way to restore an original goal of public housing: to provide transitional housing to help people elevate themselves from poverty.
Oyster goes on to question this new meme being introduced by our politicians and our media, “transitional housing,” and questions if that was the original reason for why our country helped folks with their homes.
You can read the entire post and there are some comments which do some research (including a link from Yours Truly).
So let me see here.
Folks were evicted from their public housing after the federal flood, even though their homes were not all damaged. They were sent to far flung places in and out of the Gulf Coast region. They received some assistance from the feds and from the state, but some of that assistance is running out, some folks are being evicted from their FEMA trailers, there’s a big question about housing — heck, there’s also illegal demolitions going on of middle-class housing that have resulted in law suits, serious ones.
So there’s a big mix here, it would seem to me. Whether it’s public housing or illegal demolitions of private housing, a lot of tearing down and building up (and the attendant big money contracts for same) is going on. And it will affect the entire city, the rich and the poor, imo.
We’ve heard many promises from politicians, trumpeted in the traditional media both locally and nationally, that those poor folks, those wretched poverty stricken folks will be treated with great compassion and housed well all due to the bounty of our federal government and its great agencies HUD and FEMA! They are regular Santa Clauses! Yay!
But of course this housing is only transitional. And what does transitional mean, I wonder? ‘Course just having a home is not exactly a ticket to high class status here in the good old U S of A. I dunno, jobs might help, daycare centers, hospitals, schools, libraries, all the kinds of community services so many of us take for granted, that might also help with this so-called “transition.”
How long is a transition, I wonder? Well in this instance I guess a transition depends on the money — oh not the money someone on public assistance makes, oh no! It depends on the money the government is willing to spend for this noble goal of helping to transition folks out of that nasty awful poverty they’ve got themselves in.
So it could be that next year some of these noble heroes from HUD or FEMA or maybe even some local developer with a lot of power and a lot of greed, could decide that a miracle has taken place! Each and every one of those folks, even the ones in the diaspora who have not yet come home, well can you believe it! They have all successfully transitioned from poverty and we no longer even NEED public housing! Hosanna in the highest!
Transitional my ass.
Here’s what I would like to know. Who is getting the demolition contracts? How much will they be paid? Will the citizens of New Orleans get the information they are entitled to get from the City Council on exactly who is doing what in this large project? And I am not just talking about public housing here, but city planning generally. Will the citizens whose lives are going to be affected by these decisions be given the information they need to judge how well this job is being done, so that they can feel comfortable with the results?
That’s what I’m interested in when it comes to New Orleans. I’ll stick the “transitional” meme in my meme box with all the others, like “what part of illegal don’t you understand?” or “you are only allowed to have a television if you earn over $50,000 a year,” and “impeachment is impossible, we don’t have the votes.”
I believe the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus is about far more than housing. But it cannot be denied that they were in very “transitional” housing indeed on that night a birth took place in a manger. With wise men and extremely groovy gifts. A night of contrasts, I guess.
Many folks have read that there were riots and some violence and a bunch of rabble rousing and yelling and such at the New Orleans City Council meeting on public housing, heck, it’s the top story at AOL News.
And the NOLA blogs are covering this as well.
Yep, that’s the breaking story out of New Orleans. NOT!
Let’s take a look at what actually happened today, let’s … oh, I don’t know … BLOG about it. The fucking media and our fucking representatives sure as fuck aren’t going to educate us. Arrggh.
This is a national issue.
And it’s especially a national issue for any blogger who is against this misAdministration of criminals and thieves.
The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to go ahead with the demolitions of public housing.
Please remember these seven names (one of them has posted at Daily Kos):
(If Any NOLA bloggers find I’ve incorrectly named one of these Council members, please let me know in the comments and I’ll fix.)
These seven people now own the challenge of providing fair and well built public housing in New Orleans, for both the poor who were forced out after the Federal Flood and for the greater community who are their good neighbors. That is a big responsibility.
And these seven people are going to have to work with city, state, and federal agencies, including the Bush-ridden and incompetent HUD.
This is a national story. I will tell you right now we are not going to get the truth from either our traditional media or elected political representatives — unless we push them hard.
That’s what bloggers do, imo.
The story about the riots and the poor folks who are being tasered and tortured is a big fat distraction being thrown in our faces by a traditional media who doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground.
This is going to be a tremendously difficult story to cover, and it has major national implications for cities all across the country.
The hyenas are out, and they want their share of the meat. The only thing between those hyenas and our brothers and sisters in New Orleans will be folks who find out the truth and let others know about it.
I think bloggers, nationally, have a role to play in this. One of the many, many rewards of doing this investigative work will be that when the hyenas come to your city, you’ll be prepared to call them out for what they are.
For seven years we have not heard a peep from this misAdministration about the suffering of the poor, as millions more Americans have fallen into poverty. This latest story about protesters being treated badly by the cops is nothing but a distraction — for the poor have been treated like shit for seven years and no media has bothered to cover it.
The real story is the vote. And those seven people who now have the responsibility of letting American taxpayers know what’s happening with their money.