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The Urban Land Institute, J.C. Nichols, and the Ethnic Cleansing Tradition
by Jay Arena Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005 at 5:48 AM 504-520-9521

The ULI continues the J.C. Nichols legacy wrapped up in new language and promoted by new faces

The Urban Land Institute, J.C. Nichols, and the Ethnic Cleansing Tradition

Mayor Ray Nagin’s rogues gallery collection, which calls itself the “Bring Back New Orleans Commission”, recently announced it is planning to hold town hall meetings in Houston and other cities where there are a large number of evacuees. Supposedly this measure is to ensure, according to Vincent Sylvian’s email newsletter, that “as many New Orleans residents as possible to ensure that they have significant input into the rebuilding process and to foster constructive participation in the revival of New Orleans.”

The meetings will be organized with the ‘expert’ assistance of the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The ULI, on their web site, say that their “program of work for rebuilding New Orleans is being completely covered by funds raised by the ULI Foundation, which supports Institute activities. Through the Foundation, ULI is raising $1 million to aid in rebuilding the Gulf Coast region, including providing assistance in planning the redevelopment of New Orleans. This fund was initiated with the stipend from the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development program.”

The ULI has a special affection for J.C. Nichols. “Each year, the Institute honors an extraordinary community builder through the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.”

Who was J.C. Nichols?

Nichols was an influential real estate “pioneer’ from Kansans City in the first half of the 20th century who played a key role in promoting the use of racial covenants and other deed restrictions, to keep African Americans and other “undesirable” ethnic and racial groups out of neighborhoods. His writings and strategies had great influence in the US. real estate industry and on government policy and agencies, such as the influential mortgage underwriter, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Nichols himself played a key role in the founding of the ULI, which now honors him by bestowing the annual Nichols Prize for contemporary real estate ‘visionaries”.

Many have written on the enormous influence Nichols had in promoting racially segregated residential patterns. As this Feb. 23, 2005 article from the Kansas City Star explained:

“legal experts say the covenants are very much like a curse in that they are almost impossible to get rid of. And historians trace some of that difficulty to Kansas City, where the covenants were perfected by one of the city's most prominent developers, J.C. Nichols.
Nichols was among the first developers in the United States to promote the restrictions. From 1908 through the 1940s, the J.C. Nichols Co. built dozens of subdivisions in the Kansas City area that prohibited housing sales to blacks.

Creators of the covenants crafted them in such a way that they would be around for a long time. One way to remove them is by state legislation. Other ways are not as easy.

[They still have an impact]:

Even though they cannot be enforced, covenants continue to keep minorities away from certain housing developments, said Sherry Lamb Schirmer, an associate professor of history at Avila University and author of A City Divided: The Racial Landscape of Kansas City, 1900-1960 “I have been told by black people that they're aware of what neighborhoods were once restricted, and often they still see those as hostile zones, so that they'd be more likely to purchase a house in one neighborhood versus another because of that,” Schirmer said.
“So these covenants then have more than simply symbolic meaning. They still have an impact.”
Covenants die hard

Another piece by Matt Wycoof explains that

“The J.C. Nichols company in association with the Federal Housing Administration, The Urban Land Institute and The National Association of Homebuilders, all of which Nichols helped to create, produced racially restrictive land deeds and development charters that explicitly excluded blacks from certain areas.

The ULI, and their allies in the Bring Back New Orleans commission, are continuing the racist and anti-working class legacy of Nicholls. Wrapped up in new language, and promoted by a new faces, their agenda is essentially to drive working class, especially Black working class people from the city-center. They want to have a situation like in Paris , or Latin American cities, where the wealthy take the center of the city , and the working people are pushed to the periphery. Bus them him in for work and then get them out.

In contrast, others such as C3/hands off Iberville, NOHEAT, Common Ground, Peoples Hurricane and relief Fund, and other grass roots groups are fighting for a real recovery plan. Instead of J.C. Nichols, they draw inspiration from their predecessors in the movements of racial and economic justice who fought the Nichols and the forces he represented. We now continue the fight against their offspring.

Join US:

Housing State of Emergency

No more evictions!
No more foreclosures!
Reopen Public Housing!
Emergency Housing for All!

Landlords are raising rents and throwing resident families and their
property out on the street. Meanwhile, HANO is locking up perfectly
liveable public housing while their residents are straded in shelters
across the country. If the government can feed and shelter 120,000
troops in Iraq, they can do the same for New Orleans as we return to

Together we can stope evictions and fight for affordable housing, in
the courts and in the streets!

Community Housing Rights Meeting
Tuesday, Nov. 29th
St. Augustine Church
Corner of Gov. Nicholls & St. Claude
Food at 5 PM, Meeting at 6 PM Sharp

Community Housing Rights March
Saturday, Dec. 3rd
Iberville Projects
corner of Basin and Conti
Meet at 12 Noon.

New Orleans Housing Emergency Action Team
504. 883. 8225

NO HEAT is a coalition of Common Ground, C3/Hands of Iberville,
Peoples Hurricane Fund Economic Justice Committee, Mayday DC, &
Campaign for Renters Rights

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