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St. Bernard Housing Rights Rally - July 4th
by Darwin BondGraham Wednesday, Jul. 05, 2006 at 7:57 AM
darwin@riseup.net

On July 4th, the residents of the St. Bernard housing projects (a sprawling series of buildings consisting of approximately 1500 unites) joined by activists with Common Ground, People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, and the United Front for Affordable Housing gathered for a barbeque, some dancing, and a spirited march and rally to call for the right to return home.

St. Bernard Housing ...
stbbanner.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x300

July 4th, 2006

Residents of the St. Bernard housing projects (a sprawling series of buildings consisting of approximately 1500 unites) joined by activists with Common Ground, People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, and the United Front for Affordable Housing gathered on the fourth of July for a barbeque, some dancing, and a spirited march and rally to call for the right to return home.

The St. Bernard projects have been fenced off since not long after the bottom units flooded during hurricane Katrina. The Housing Authority of New Orleans, or HANO, (which is in the receivership of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD) claims that the complex has been severely damaged by flooding, toxic mold, and wind sheer, making it unsafe for residents to reoccupy their apartments. On June 14th HUD announced its plans to demolish the St. Bernard complex along with several other housing projects in the city. Their plans would diminish the city’s public housing stock drastically and replace it with so called “mixed-income” developments, typically housing and commercial buildings that provide far fewer total units, only a fraction of which are slated for low-income occupants.

The coalition of residents and activists gathered at St. Bernard point out that this plan will displace thousands and cause serious harm to them and their families. Bill Quigly, a lawyer working on behalf of the residents noted that everyone has the right to return home, regardless of pre-Katrina circumstances. During the day residents wrote a number of their concerns on several posters affixed to an empty storefrong wall across the street. Some residents wrote about their lack of healthcare, feeling out of place in Texas, not being able to find work, and being separated from family as a result of their displacement.

Residents and activists alike believe the solution is simple: reopen St. Bernard to its residents and acknowledge their right to self-determination. After the march and rally a thunderstorm passed overhead and many of the protestors slowly packed up to leave. One contingent, however, had no intention of leaving. The Survivor’s Village, established on June 3rd along the neutral grounds of St. Bernard Avenue just outside the complex’s gates will remain for as long as it takes to reopen public housing in New Orleans. Residents and protestors also say that they are planning something big for August 29th, the first year commemoration of hurricane Katrina.

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St. Bernard projects behind HANO's barbed wire fence
by Darwin BondGraham Wednesday, Jul. 05, 2006 at 7:57 AM
darwin@riseup.net

St. Bernard projects...
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Rally after the march
by Darwin BondGraham Wednesday, Jul. 05, 2006 at 7:57 AM
darwin@riseup.net

Rally after the marc...
stbrally.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x300

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Part of the survivor's village outside of St. Bernard
by Darwin BondGraham Wednesday, Jul. 05, 2006 at 7:57 AM
darwin@riseup.net

Part of the survivor...
stbtentbuildings.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x300

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Resident writes some of her concerns down
by Darwin BondGraham Wednesday, Jul. 05, 2006 at 7:57 AM
darwin@riseup.net

Resident writes some...
stbresident.jpg, image/jpeg, 399x533

The display, posted by the United Front for Affordable Housing sought input from residents about the future of St. Bernard as well as their needs and concerns about life after Katrina.

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Concerns
by Darwin BondGraham Wednesday, Jul. 05, 2006 at 7:57 AM
darwin@riseup.net

Concerns...
stbconcerns.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x300

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