Low-Income Katrina Survivors

New Rep. Common Ground

A bill in congress would help low-income Katrina survivors come home. But the senators from Louisiana are standing in the way.

Demand Landrieu and Vitter act on HR 1227, now.

Dear Comrades and Friends,

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 Orleans. 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.

Please join us in demanding that Senators Landrieu and Vitter stop dragging their feet, and lead on this important legislation, now.

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 housing.1

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.2 The result of these meetings was H.R. 1227, the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 20073. 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 re-opening 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 people 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. Join us in demanding that Senators Landrieu and Vitter support H.R. 1227.

Thank You and Peace,
-- James, Van, Clarissa, Gabriel, and the rest of the team
April 23rd, 2007

1) New Orleans: HUD Policies Limiting Housing for Poor, Truthout, 12-29-06

2) Blanco: HUD should reopen N.O. public housing projects

3) Text of H.R. 1227-Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007