November 2006 Archives
Take Action Today! Sign the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund petitions to protect renters against price gouging and to make the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) accountable to people without homes, not developers. Spread the Word!
Nearly a quarter of a million New Orleanians remain Internally Displaced People—with no homes in New Orleans to return to. "The Road Home"—the federally funded recovery program— offers the majority of New Orleanians—renters— no compensation at all. Yet, 90% of the rentals in Gentilly, 84% of rentals in the Lower 9th Ward, 76% in Village de l’Est and 61% in Mid City—all predominantly low income Black neighborhoods, were destroyed. Courageous renters who are trying to rebuild their lives in New Orleans spend months searching for a place to rent, and when they find it, the landlord invariably charges at least double for property that is barely habitable.
To advance the campaign to win affordable housing, rent control and tenants rights in New Orleans, the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund is launching two urgent petition drives. Each petition is part of a strategy to challenge government representatives to support the peoples’ right to return home.
The first petition demands that the New Orleans City Council pass legislation to curb price gouging and provide basic protections for renters.
The second petition, the Louisiana Recovery Authority Reconstitution petition, will be delivered to Governor Kathleen Blanco and the Louisiana State Legislature demanding that that the LRA be disbanded and that a new, representative body reflective of the race and class composition of the affected areas be created to take its place. As it is currently constituted, the LRA is accountable only to developers when making decisions about what to do with federal recovery money.
The goal of the petition drive is to get 10,000 signatures for each petition by January 31, 2007. Once we attain this goal, we will deliver the petitions to the City Council and State Legislature to press our demands and the legislation we need to help realize the right of return. We need you to take the petition to your place of worship, work, union hall, school, social club and spread the word amongst your family and friends.
Please mail the original of each completed petition to PHRF, 1418 North Claiborne #2, New Orleans, LA 70118 or fax a copy to (504) 301-0306.
Friends, Allies and Supporters:
SPREAD THIS NEWS AS QUICKLY AND WIDELY AS POSSIBLE!
LETTER AND PHONE CAMPAIGN INFO
The time has come when your action could mean the difference between justice and injustice, home for the holidays or homeless in the cold. In the next few days over 100 families are facing eviction from their affordable apartments at the Woodlands. Right now your support, and your action, could provide the impetus they need to win their fight.
As you may know, Common Ground has been managing the Woodlands apartment complex for the past five months, with the intent to purchase the property to create cooperative housing, small business cooperatives, social programs and human services offices, all while keeping the lowest rents in the city. During this time CG rehabilitated over 100 units, and formalized rental relationships with signed leases. Through a series of bad faith dealings the former owner, Anthony Reginelli, sold the property to the Johnson Property Group, LLC. Now both are working together to evict the tenants just in time for the holidays.
The tenants are organized and ready to fight. They are planning a host of strategies, from press conferences to direct actions, from formal mediation to court cases. But they need your voice. They need your faxes, calls emails in support, calling for the new owners to do the right thing and work with the tenants to find a mutually beneficial solution.
The next pages contain sample letters detailing the tenants needs and demands, and following those is a contact list. There are two versions of the letter, one for the Johnson Property Group, LLC itself, and another for their business associates. Feel free to use the sample letter, or create your own based on it. If you have business or organization letterhead, that may add extra weight. The crucial aspect is that the residents need your assistance RIGHT NOW.
This can be an extremely effective public pressure campaign, because the new owners have a very good name in human services in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana. The Managing Manager for the Group is Soundra Temple-Johnson, who, along with Collis Temple, Jr. and family, own and operate Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Options as well as the Harmony Center, Inc., both of which offer extensive social services for those in need. They have a conscience, at least a public one, which can be effectively prodded by your letters, and by the opinions of their business associates.
Please take a little time out of your Thanksgiving preparations to send or hand deliver these letters to as many of the contacts as possible. Because of the holiday we must act right now to be effective. If you live near one of these locations, hand-deliver the letter. If you are able, mount a small (or large!) demonstration at their address, as the tenants will be doing in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
You will hear more from us, as we hold press conferences and demonstrations, and we will keep you updatedwith our progress. We’d also love to hear from you about your involvement at: firstname.lastname@example.org You could cc: us when you email out the letter, and send us a note about faxes, hand-deliveries and demonstrations – or any other great ideas you put into action!
Please act now, before Thanksgiving, so the one hundred families and children of the Woodlands can have something to be thankful for this holiday season.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Next Steps – Advance the Rent Control/Tenants Rights and LRA Petitions and target the Legislative Special Session to attain our demands.
Saturday, November 18th Baton Rouge, LA – The "We Want Our Money" Rally galvanized several hundred Katrina Survivors, many from as far away as Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia on the Louisiana Capitol Mall to demand justice from Governor Blanco and the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). The rally and pressure campaign supported by hundreds of Survivors and their supporters throughout the country demanded:
1. That the LRA be disbanded and a representative institution or body is created to oversee and govern the recovery and reconstruction process;
2. That renters are compensated for their losses and be provided with resources to aid with moving costs, deposits, and rent assistance;
3. That all of the public housing units in New Orleans be reopened immediately;
4. That there be no demolition of any of the public housing units in New Orleans;
5. That rent gouging cease and decent affordable housing be made available;
6. That funds for the total replacement of privately owned homes be made available immediately.
In response to the rally and the pressure campaign, Governor Blanco and the LRA have been forced to proclaim that they are going to accelerate the pace of the Road Home Recovery process and try and address some of the concerns of renters. While the response is welcomed, it is in no way sufficient. It does not address the fundamental demand for justice for renters, side steps the issue of public housing, and offers no affordable housing guarantees. The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund is intent on fighting Governor Blanco and the LRA until our fundamental Affordable Housing and Tenants Rights demands are met. Our next step is to take these demands before the Special Legislative Session called by Governor Kathleen Blanco beginning on December 8th. We have also initiated two petition drives to win our demands and accomplish our campaign goals. One petition is to reorganize the LRA, the other to implement rent control and tenants rights in New Orleans.
The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition (PHRF/OC) organized "We Want Our Money Rally". The Rally was supported by the African American Leadership Project, C3/Hands off Iberville, Common Ground Relief, Critical Resistance, the NAACP, Nation of Islam, NCOBRA, Safe Streets/Strong Communities, SCLC, SPARK, Survivors Village, Welfare Rights Organization, the Workers Center for Racial Justice. Legislative members Cedric Richmond and Anne Duplessis also supported the rally.
The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition will be conducting a Tenants’ Rights Working Group meeting on Tuesday, November 21st at 6 pm to assess the rally and discuss the next steps to the Affordable Housing/Tenants Rights Campaign. The meeting will be held at 1418 N. Claiborne Ave.
For more information call (504) 301-02125
Governor Kathleen Blanco has hijacked over $10 billion from the Federal Government. Congress appropriated this money to assist displaced people and to reconstruct New Orleans and other areas damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
To control these funds, Blanco created an extrajudicial body, accountable fundamentally only to her, called the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). The LRA is wholly unrepresentative of Louisiana’s population, particularly of New Orleans, in both its race and class composition. The LRA is a who’s who of Louisiana’s rich and powerful. The LRA represents the interests of major developers, who are intent on preventing the return to New Orleans of its Black working class majority and turning it into the Las Vegas of the South.
Governor Blanco and the LRA are offering nothing to renters, who constitute the vast majority of those displaced. Their Road Home program is focused exclusively on homeowners. Under the LRA renters get nothing to make them whole or to reimburse them for their losses. This is a gross injustice and must be rectified.
Yet, even for most homeowners, Blanco and the LRA program offers very little. The Road Home Program advertises that Homeowners are eligible for up to $150,000 grants to repair your homes. But the size of each grant is based on the pre-Katrina value of the homeowner’s property minus what has already been received from insurance companies, minus any FEMA grants; minus penalties for not having flood insurance, and minus penalties for moving out of the state if the homeowner sells the property. The equation leaves homeowners with barely enough funds to reconstruct a room in their former homes, especially given today’s inflated construction costs.
Rather we need a resident return program based on the principles of justice and equity. The program must include renters as well as homeowners. Renters should be able to return to a fairly-priced housing; not housing priced out of the range of the majority of New Orleans’ working people. Those who had homes with paid off mortgages should have their homes replaced.
We must not allow Governor Blanco to get away with ethnic cleansing and thievery.
Call, fax, or email Governor Kathleen Blanco and the Louisiana Recovery Authority starting Monday, November 13th and demand the following for all those affected and displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:
- That the LRA be disbanded and a representative institution or body is created to oversee and govern the recovery and reconstruction process;
- That renters are compensated for their losses and be provided with resources to aid with moving costs, deposits, and rent assistance;
- That all of the public housing units in New Orleans be reopened immediately;
- That there be no demolition of any of the public housing units in New Orleans;
- That rent gouging cease and decent affordable housing be made available; and
- That funds for the total replacement of privately owned homes be made available.
Dear Gov. Blanco and Mr. Kopplin,
I am seriously concerned about the process for recovery in devastated New Orleans. I am particularly worried about the make-up of the LRA board and the exclusion of renters from its currently proposed programs. Furthermore, I doubt that the formula developed to provide grants to homeowners will be enough to really assist poor and working class people in rebuilding their homes. I recommend that The LRA be disbanded and a representative institution or body be created to oversee and govern the recovery and reconstruction process; that renters are compensated for their losses and be provided with resources to aid with moving costs, deposits, and rent assistance; that all of the public housing units in New Orleans be reopened immediately; that there be no demolition of any of the public housing units in New Orleans; that rent gouging cease and decent affordable housing be made available; and that funds for the total replacement of privately owned homes be made available.Thank you,
- Governor Kathleen Blanco, PO Box 94004 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9004 Call: (866) 366-1121 Fax: (225) 342-7099
- Louisiana Recovery Authority, Andy Kopplin - executive director, 150 Third Street Suite 200, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70801 Call: (225) 342-1700 Fax: (225) 342-0002