This May Be From Katrina
Today, Congress has the opportunity to help thousands of New Orleans
residents come back home. The Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery
Act of 2007 would re-open desperately needed public housing units and
make sure there is no loss of affordable public housing in New
The bill quickly passed the House of Representatives, but the two
people who should be leading the charge in the Senate–Louisiana
Senators Landrieu and Vitter–are stalling, and without their support,
the bill will go nowhere. I’ve signed on with ColorofChange.org to
call on Senators Landrieu and Vitter to stop dragging their feet, and
lead on this important legislation, now. Will you join us?
Preserving Affordable Housing in New Orleans
Since Hurricane Katrina hit, public housing residents have been
fighting to return home. Unfortunately, HUD (Department of Housing
and Urban Development) is planning to demolish most of the available
public housing units–apartments that were minimally damaged by the
storm–and replace them with far fewer units of affordable public
In response to residents’ protests, Congresswoman Maxine Waters held
hearings in New Orleans, giving residents a chance to voice their
concerns to Congress. Around the same time, Governor Blanco met with
Congressman Barney Frank–head of the committee that oversees HUD–to
discuss the need to re-open housing not damaged by the storm. The
result of these meetings was H.R. 1227, The Gulf Coast Hurricane
Recovery Act of 2007.
H.R. 1227 honors the right to return of all New Orleans public housing
residents and takes steps to preserve affordable housing in New
Orleans. It requires the reopening of at least 3,000 public housing
units and ensures that there is no net loss of units available and
affordable to public housing residents. The bill swiftly passed the
House of Representatives, but it won’t pass the Senate unless
Louisiana senators take the lead.
Why haven’t Senators Landrieu and Vitter stepped up?
Race and class seem to explain Landrieu and Vitter’s refusal to step
up. Some have expressed a desire to see a “richer” and “Whiter” post-
Katrina New Orleans, and many of them have a great deal of political
influence. From what we can tell, Senator Vitter is playing to those
interests by ignoring this legislation–but as a senator for all
Louisiana residents, it’s his responsibility to ensure that everyone
who wants to come home can–not the just the wealthy, privileged,
and White. Insiders tell us that Senator Landrieu is being cautious
for the same reason: that she doesn’t want to offend “moderate”
supporters who have a similar vision for New Orleans.
The Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act is the last great hope
for New Orleans public housing residents who want to come home. By
urging the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to
take up H.R. 1227, Senators Landrieu and Vitter can make it a reality.
But if the senators from Louisiana don’t lead on this issue, others
simply won’t follow.
It’s time to do what’s right for New Orleans public housing residents
and pass this bill in the Senate. Will you join us and demand that
Senator Landrieus and Vitter support H.R. 1227.