Sunday, March 02, 2008

UN Experts Criticize New Orleans Housing ...


From an article by John Moreno Gonzales, Associated Press Writer:

UN Experts Chide New Orleans Move to Demolish Public Housing Projects, Saying It Hurts Blacks

Two human rights experts for the United Nations on Thursday criticized a federal plan to raze public housing projects in New Orleans, saying it will force the predominantly black residents into homelessness.

New Orleans advocates clamoring to save 4,500 public housing units claimed a victory. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which wants to replace the decades-old housing projects with mixed-income, mixed-use development, called the U.N. experts "misinformed."

The statement issued out of Geneva was not a U.N. finding, but only the individual views of Miloon Kothari, a special investigator on housing matters for the U.N. Human Rights Council, and Gay McDougall, a lawyer who is an expert on minority and rights issues.

They charged that demolition would harm thousands of people by denying them a place to live in a city where housing already is scarce since Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005.

"The authorities claim that the demolition of public housing is not intentionally discriminatory," Kothari and McDougall said, but the "predominantly African-American residents" will be denied their "internationally recognized human rights" to a home.

They commented a day before a U.N. racism panel planned to discuss Katrina recovery efforts and public housing in New Orleans and also was expected to comment on allegations of racial discrimination in the United States. Neither expert was involved with that committee's hearings.

Local officials said the U.N. experts were too detached from the complexities of the post-Katrina city to claim razing of the buildings was racist.

"The past model of public housing in New Orleans has been a failed one -- years of neglect and mismanagement left our public housing developments in ruin," the city council said in a statement issued Thursday. "These are critical times in our city's history -- we can choose to continue on the path of progress and positive change or we can choose to maintain the status quo."

Council members unanimously supported the demolition plan in December, in a meeting marred by violence when some protesters tried to force their way into the packed chambers. The protesters have said they were denied their legal right to enter.

The demolition of the housing projects appears all but assured. Early stages have begun at some developments, while others are waiting only for demolition permits.

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1 Comments:

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