An idea that works

I’ve intentionally kept quiet for a while on the issue of public housing while watching all the honking and beeping at City Hall recently.Our own Laureen Lentz was so far ahead of the curve in identifying and reporting on the situation that I figured it was best to let the T-P and others catch up before I chipped in. After all, I spent 30 years as a professional observer.

There is a new editorial in the New York Times that sheds more light on the situation. It basically says what the City Council said in its recent vote and what I’ve seen with my own eyes over the past year or so — that this mixed-income housing can and indeed DOES work in New Orleans and should be expanded.

Each day, I drive through the River Garden area that replaced the old St. Thomas projects. My business bumps up against this area and my own house is less than eight blocks away. I can tell you that the level of crime in the area is miniscule, the units were and have remained nice and, most important, the affability of the neighborhood is infectious. What problems there are (drugs, violence, derelicts hanging on a street corner, etc) are not evident in this area — they come from surrounding blocks that have not been improved to the point where someone can take pride in where they live.

A life’s worth experience tells me that a person’s economic situation has little or nothing to do with how they view themselves or their living situations. You either have class or you don’t. I have no idea how many of the River Garden residents are Section 8 or are otherwise receiving some sort of assistance. It’s immaterial anyway. What I DO know is that the sidewalks in this development remain clean and there appears to be a great sense of unity to this neighborhood. On the rare occasions I see a police presence, it’s usually to chase someone who has run into the area from outside. In short, it appears everyone is watching each other’s ass and pushing to create a better opportunity for each other. When things run smoothly, life is so much easier for everyone.

That’s what has to happen to make a neighborhood work. And it appears to be working big-time in River Garden. Let’s pray it works half as well at Lafitte, B.W Cooper and the others.

3 Comments so far

  1. J.B. (unregistered) on December 26th, 2007 @ 9:26 am

    I am not espousing any particular position in this comment, and I don’t think anyone’s arguing that mixed-income housing is not a good thing, but my understanding of the anti-demolition argument is that

    A.) In the past, HUD has replaced low-income housing with higher-income housing, and many fewer total units,

    B.) There is no telling when and if the new mixed-income housing will actually be built


    C.) HUD’s misrepresentation of untouched brick buildings as “unliveable” casts further doubt on the agency’s integrity.

    All of this, in the context of an inarguably more expensive post-levee-failure New Orleans, leads many to feel there is an organized, large-scale effort to push the poor out of New Orleans.

    If anyone has a clearer sense of the arguments being made, please feel free to correct me.

  2. Laurie (unregistered) on December 26th, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

    The “Suburbs” were once a social experiment in the late to mid 1960’s-they have worked well.

    The “Housing develments” were a social experiment at around the same time; they miserably failed to produce results.

    Sorry, but the above is the absolute truth.

    Besides, the infrastructure of New Orleans is not capable of handling more at this point in time.


  3. Anon (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 12:15 am

    Put a Walmart near the projects and I’m sure the added police protection will enhance the neighborhood too.

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