Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Louisiana Justice Institute To Release Report on Residents Still Living in FEMA Trailers More Than Two Years After Katrina

Louisiana Justice Institute (LJI), in partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), will release their public report on the dire circumstances of residents still living in FEMA trailers over two years after Katrina. A press conference will be held at the CDF offices at 1452 N. Broad Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, at 10 a.m. tomorrow,Wednesday April 30, 2008.

In early January 2008, LJI and CDF coordinated an interview and outreach project aimed at FEMA trailer residents across Louisiana. With the help of law student volunteers, our organizations conducted outreach to over 500 residents and interviewed over 150 residents. This report contains an analysis of the data gathered, as well as stories from the residents themselves.

According to the report to be officially released on Wednesday, the majority of residents living in FEMA trailers are employed. Residents living in FEMA trailers also tend to be older, with an emphasis on the elderly and disabled. 55% of residents interviewed were 50 years old or older and 22% were 62 years and older, and almost 40% reported that someone living in their trailer had “special needs” including a disability.

In addition, many residents reported health problems. Fifteen percent (15%) of the residents interviewed reported they were suffering from depression, anxiety, other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues. In addition, 29% reported rashes, itchy eyes, breathing problems and other symptoms usually related to high levels formaldehyde in their FEMA trailer.

With FEMA reporting that over100,000 people still live in FEMA trailers across the Gulf Coast, it is even more worrisome that 55% of residents interviewed report that if they were to be evicted from their FEMA trailer in the next few months they would have no family they could turn to for help and they expected to be homeless.

With this report, LJI and CDF want national attention focused on the dire circumstances of over 100,000 residents on the Gulf Coast still living in FEMA trailers. In addition, LJI calls on the U.S. government and the governments of the Gulf Coast states to develop a long-term plan to make sure that residents of the Gulf Coast have access to safe, affordable housing, as well as immediate and continued access to medical examinations and healthcare in order to gauge and address all health problems resulting from their exposure to high levels of formaldehyde.

To receive an electronic copy of the report, please email lauren@louisianajusticeinstitute.org.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Demolition of the final 'Big Four' complex stirs up memories of the past and anxiety about the future of N.O. public housing

Friday, April 11, 2008
By Katy Reckdahl

Forty years ago, Mary Joseph was helping families at the Lafitte public housing development as a home counselor.

On Thursday morning, Joseph, now head of the Children's Defense Fund of Louisiana, sat in her car not far from the Lafitte's Tonti Street court, watching yellow backhoes ripping into the development's buildings.

She felt sorrow as she recalled the late 1960s and early 1970s in the complex, across Orleans Avenue from the offices of prominent civil rights leaders A.P. Tureaud and Dutch Morial and from the frequent civil rights meeting spot, Dooky Chase restaurant. She had been inside nearly every apartment and knew the families well, she said.

Like many who came to view the destruction, Joseph and her co-worker Glenda Harris also talked about the post-Katrina squeeze on affordable housing.

They wondered how much of that shortage could be addressed with the mixed-income housing planned for the sites of the now-demolished "Big Four" housing developments.
Down the street, a group of protesters stood listlessly, holding signs. Among them was lawyer Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute, who said she and other attorneys challenged the demolitions in every court, but failed.

She wondered whether the mixed-income developers' plans would shrink now that the value of low-income tax credits used to finance the plans has declined.

Joseph said housing officials should examine the city's needs as a whole, rather than just at replacements for demolished complexes.

"We need a unified housing plan," she said. said. "We are chipping away at this, development by development."
. . . . . . .


A Gathering to Honor Lafitte and Protest Its Destruction on Friday April 11, 2008. From left to right: Glenda Harris, Mr. Joseph, Mary Joseph, Tracie Washington and Lauren Bartlett

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Louisiana Justice Institute (LJI) Invites you to a Public Forum on April 15th, 2008 from 7-9pm


The Impact of the Closure of Charity on the Metro
HOW the REFUSAL of LSU Health
Care Officials to RE-OPEN

- Judge Calvin Johnson, Retired Orleans Parish Criminal
- State Rep. Juan LaFonta, Chair of the Legislative
Black Caucus
- Clinic Dir. Alice Craft-Kerney, RN and Director
of the Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic
- Commander Cecile Tebo , NOPD Mobile Crisis Unit
- NAACP 1st VP Darius Johnson, Chair of the
Local NAACP Health Care Committee

WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, April 15
WHERE: Loyola U., Roussel Hall, Music
Bldg., Corner of St. Charles Ave. (6300 block) and Calhoun

SPONSORS: LUCAP (Loyola Univ. Community Action Program), Committee to Reopen Charity Hospital, the Louisiana Justice Institute

Thursday, April 10, 2008

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11am Today: Protest of Demolition of Lafitte Housing Development

I've learned the Housing Authority of New Orleans, Providence Housing, and Catholic Charities -- with the blessings of Ray Nagin and each and every New Orleans City Councilmember -- will begin the demolition of the Lafitte Housing Development on tomorrow.
Lafitte Housing Development is a crime scene. It is the site of a rape and the defilement of a community and a people. We know this. We also know that, just as has happened in the past when 'do-gooder' missionaries come to "tame the natives" -- Catholic Charities and Providence will leave us with a corpse or worse, the caricature of the people they want to help.
Will you please join me and others tomorrow as we stand in protest, beginning at 11:00 a.m. We will meet at the corner of Claiborne Avenue and Orleans Avenue.
Tracie L. Washington, Esq.