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Protestors Descend on HANO Demanding "Sec. 3 and Sec. 8!"
by darwin Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Dozens of protesters converged on the Housing Authority of New Orleans' headquarters today demanding jobs and housing. They expected a board meeting, but were told at the last minute of its cancellation. HANO did not offer a reason but said Friday it will reconvene the board.

Protestors Descend o...
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July 15, 2009

Organizers of today's action say that HANO is failing to transition low-income families from its “DHAP” (disaster housing voucher program) to its regular Section 8 rental voucher program quick enough to meet the August deadline that the Obama administration has set for the termination of DHAP. They also pointed out many flaws with Section 8, saying that demolition of the city's ~5000 units of project-based public housing after Katrina has led to skyrocketing rental prices and a lack of options for voucher holders. “Section 8 makes you pay for utilities, and it adds complexity to a renters' situation because you're dealing with a landlord and HANO,” explains Sam Jackson of May Day New Orleans. “Straight public housing, when it was well funded and kept up, made everyone's rent lower, and provided needed housing for low-income working families.”

HUD's Section 3 provision was created in 1968 after years of struggle by public housing residents and low-income citizens to guarantee that HUD contracts employ working class families, especially those who live in public housing. It offers job training and hiring, as well as preferences to local small businesses. Post-Katrina New Orleans has seen huge HANO/HUD contracts signed with major politically connected for-profit and non-profit corporations to rebuild demolished sites like CJ Peete and St. Bernard.

“The residents of public housing and other regular folks are losing out doubly with HANO ignoring Sec. 3,” explains Stephanie Mingo, an organizer and resident of the demolished St. Bernard. “HANO isn't enforcing compliance with Section 3 as diligently as they should be. HANO's contractors aren't hiring local people at the levels they could and should.” Ms. Mingo sent a letter to Diane Johnson, HANO's single board member over a month ago posing several questions about compliance and says she has yet to hear a response. She has aired her concerns about Sec. 3 on multiple occasions but, “they're shutting us out,” she says of HANO and its contractors. At today's rally she called on HANO to “prove compliance” by providing hard data on job training, job hiring, and local contracting. HANO's spokesman and counsel Wayne Woods offered sympathetic but vague responses, eventually disappearing into the barricaded HANO building until most of the protestors called it quits in the hot sun.

Last week organizers put together a “job fair” for the work rebuilding St. Bernard and other demolished sites. Hundreds of New Orleanians filled out applications provided by the grassroots organizers who had to make clear that they couldn't promise the jobs themselves, as they were only doing what HUD and HANO have yet to sufficiently do; job outreach. Nevertheless, the applications were handed over to the HANO hiring office.

Organizers say they'll mobilize for Friday's board meeting to demand concrete answers.

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by darwin Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 at 4:17 PM

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Stephanie Mingo and a STAND organizer speak with HANO's Wayne Woods.

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Protesters gather outside HANO
by darwin Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Protesters gather ou...
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"Wayne, what's up?"
by darwin Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 at 4:17 PM

"Wayne, what's ...
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Sam Jackson, May Day New Orleans speaks with Woods.

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