Republished from Counterpunch
by: Chuck Munson
It comes as no surprise when a major U.S. newspaper backs real estate developers over the rights and interests of the poor they have a long track record of doing so, while the poor are lectured in patronizing language to emulate the people the papers celebrate. This week the New Orleans Times-Picayune has an article on their website titled “Protests ignore realities.” This article is a response to the struggle local residents have been waging against the planned demolition of their homes–protests which made national headlines this week. The “realities” these people supposedly ignore is that the government and wealthy real estate developers know what’s best for them.
But the poor just don’t seem to be getting it. Over the past week, as residents of New Orleans public housing complexes and activist allies have been resisting the demolition of four public housing complexes, comprising of 4,500 units, the city council–now racially skewed to the white end of the spectrum–voted to bulldoze those complexes to make way for new “mixed income” developments that purportedly would provide homes to some of those being displaced. The reality of similar programs around the country is that they seldom provide even a fraction of the affordable units promised by officials when older housing complexes were demolished.
Housing activists are not against programs that create more and better affordable housing, but they correctly point out that people should have a say in what happens to their current homes. In the case of New Orleans, it is outrageous that the city should demolish so much public housing when there are tens of thousands of displaced residents still looking for a place to live.