Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gentrification is a policy choice

Guste homes

We chose to do this.

Despite the loss of thousands of public housing units, the new mixed-income communities appear to have accomplished the goals of decentralizing poverty, at least on the footprints of the old developments.

However, they serve just 9 percent of HANO households. What about the remaining 91 percent who are using Section 8 vouchers, including thousands of former public housing residents?

Recent studies indicate the voucher program -- which is supposed to give people greater choice where they live, allowing them to choose better neighborhoods and ideally provide safer environments for their children – has fallen short.

A large percentage of Section 8 families are clustered in low-income, largely black neighborhoods, many in eastern New Orleans, according to a Data Center report. This creates a particular problem for people who depend on public transportation and work in the service industry in the French Quarter. A report by Ride New Orleans found that only 35 percent of the city's bus service has returned in the past decade.

"We know they are being pushed out into the suburban areas, far away from the places they called home for generations, the neighborhoods that in some cases they helped build," said Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. "They're commuting for well over an hour every day to get to work. Is that the life we want for the people that support and sustain our service-based economy and the people that contribute to our reputation as a cultural mecca?"
A few weeks ago, Mitch Landrieu bragged to Buzzfeed about the successful gentrification policy accusing its critics of a "sick mentality" based on the notion that "you need poverty to make culture." But no one was actually saying that except Mitch Landrieu. Either he doesn't understand the problem or he doesn't listen to his critics.  Or maybe he actually does not care about poor people.

Anyway, the result of his choices is we still have both poverty and the semblance of "culture" as defined by the tourism industry.  Only now the poverty is concentrated further away from where the shittier transit system brings it to "make culture" for the amusement of the rich people who live in its former neighborhoods. 

But property values are up in Central City. Mission Accomplished, I guess.

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