Issuu on Google+

EE

FR

Community Voices Orchestrating Change March/April 2008

Issue #2 Volume 2

The HOUSING Issue What’s Inside: Changing the Irish Channel,

page 10

Filmore’s Future with FEMA,

page 16

Is Anybody Home? New Orleans by the Numbers, page 23

Neighborhoods Partnership Network’s mission is to provide an inclusive and collaborative city-wide framework that empowers New Orleans neighborhood groups in community development and citizen engagement. 3500 Canal Street, Second Floor, New Orleans, LA 70119 • Office 504-940-2207, Fax 504-940-2208 • thetrumpet@npnnola.com


2

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Letter from the Executive Director of NPN

THE PLACE I CALL HOME The idea of a single word holding multiple meanings has always amazed me. My being a former English teacher has nothing to do with this fascination, but the flexibility of language and the manipulation Americans can apply to it brings forth a certain beauty in words. I think about how the words “deaf,” “fresh,” “cool” or even “jiggy” have changed and restructured the way our culture has embraced language, and how we view the individuals who use them. I remember the first time my mom heard my brother and me singing a Hip-Hop song with the word “dope” in the lyrics. She nearly went berserker and banned us from listening to that particular artist. How “dope” in her culture, time and space was viewed as negative, yet in our culture “dope” was cool, fresh and all that was good. Relating this, we as a community have changed the dynamics and meanings of what is home. While writing this piece, I begin to think about the word “HOME” and how it too has totally transformed the way New Orleanians view individual space. This one word has the capacity to carry a multitude of meanings for a vast group of people. Home for one is just a place of residence and for others it is the total environment of where you have established your identity and your being. After the failure of the federal levees (I have since learned that this is the appropriate way to describe what happened on August 29, 2005), coming home to New Orleans was a vague and receding dream. The first visit I made to the city was around this time in 2006. I came home for my favorite festival, Jazz Fest, leaving North Carolina early morning, before daybreak, or some may even say it was just the breaking of the new day. I drove ten hours with a rushing desire of making sure I got HOME in time to see what was being said about the place I called HOME. As we crossed the state line into Louisiana, we noticed the marking point that gave us an assurance that we were home, the Louisiana “Welcome Home” sign. I pulled my car to the side of the road so that my son Evan and I could rush just to touch it. Never mind the fact that we at least 100 miles away from New Orleans and 120 miles away from my grandparents’ uptown university home. It was a reality that we could come home and that we had made it home. Our hearts and faces beamed at the thought of what we were facing ahead, not realizing what we were about to see with naked eyes what was a reality of home for many. Fast forward a year later: I made a conscious decision to become a homeowner in the center of the devastation, Gentilly. Rationalizing that my home was rebuilt and livable I moved in, recognizing that there was more to a home than just the frame of the house. I moved in with the belief and hope that my presence would change the scenery of the neighborhood. Walking my dog, playing football with my son on our front lawn, washing my car, all are things that I did before the failure of the federal levees and while living in Charlotte, therefore these are also things that I would do in my community. Why? Because this was home. I decide to do an internal survey amongst my staff and family members to inquire how they related to the word “home.” Each answer was as unique as the person who gave it. Some talked about a specific person, or smell, or the city where they grew up, or their church congregation, and then there was one person whose answer totally took me by surprise - she drew a blank. She did not connect with the word at all because of how her family moved around the country and abroad during her childhood. So the next time we talk in the context of someone’s home we should really think about how they have internalize the word and what it genuinely means to them. You’ll be surprised where their heart really lies. -Timolynn Sams

Get Connected to the Network

Neighborhoods Partnership Network to receive weekly updates or to find out who your neighborhood liason is, email

newsletter@npnnola.com


NPN’s The Trumpet

3

Letter From The Editor The Talking Heads’ concert movie Stop Making Sense came out in 1984, the same year that I was

born. Often, I listen to the movie’s soundtrack when I think about my home before I came to New Orleans, in New York City. None of my friends there appreciated the Talking Heads and I didn’t start digging them until I was in college, but there are certain sounds on their album that just spark my nostalgia. Lyrics like, “Home is where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there,” remind me of the reality of living in Louisiana and the challenge of moving here. The accessibility of those songs manages to make that transition seem more manageable. Even though I left all of my Talking Heads records back in New York and had to get my friends to copy them and e-mail them to me, the songs are still just a iTunes shuffle away. We define our homes, in part, by the physical items that inside of them. Moving to New Orleans has made me realize that our homes are more than those things. They’re the intangibles that surround us and that we choose to keep near us. They’re also the memories that those things prompt. Our homes are the sounds we hear, and not just the records on which we store them. Ted Hornick Ted Hornick Editor-in-Chief

The Trumpet

Staff

Editor-in-Chief

Alethia Picciola Art Director Editorial Team Ava Rogers Breonne DeDecker Elizabeth Falcon

NPN provides an inclusive and collaborative city-wide framework to empower neighborhood groups in New Orleans. Find out more at NPNnola.com EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Timolynn Sams COMMUNITY PROGRAMS MANAGER Gill Benedek BUSINESS MANAGER Mario Perkins FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS Phil Costa, Board Chair City Park Neighborhood Association Patricia Jones, Board Treasurer NENA Lower 9th Ward Deborah Langhoff Steering Committee District 5 Lakeview, Lake Vista Neighborhood Association Latoya Cantrell Amy Lafont Mid-City Neighborhood Association Lynn Aline Baronne Street Neighborhood Association Dorian Hastings Central City Renaissance

Mia Partlow

Julius Lee Real Timbers Property Owners Association, Inc.

Shawn Chollette

Victor Gordon Pontilly Neighborhood Association Kim Henry Gentilly Civic Improvement Association Nikki Najiolia Oak Park Neighborhood Association

Third Party Submission Issues Physical submissions on paper, CD, etc. cannot be returned unless an arrangement is made. Submissions may be edited and may be published or otherwise reused in any medium. By submitting any notes, information or material, or otherwise providing any material for publication in the newspaper, you are representing that you are the owner of the material, or are making your submission with the consent of the owner of the material, all information you provide is true, accurate, current and complete. Non-Liability Disclaimers The Trumpet may contain facts, views, opinions, statements and recommendations of third party individuals and organizations. The Trumpet does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other information in the publication and use of or reliance on such advice, opinion, statement or other information is at your own risk.

Cover Photos by Shawn Chollette and Alethia Picciola: These photos of house fronts, from all over the city, show the large sample of different places that people call home in New Orleans.

Copyright Copyright 2008 Neighborhoods Partnership Network. All Rights Reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the express written consent of Neighborhoods Partnership Network is expressly prohibited.


4

March / April 2008

NPN’s The Trumpet

Table of Contents Letter from the Editors,

page 3

YMCA Adult Education, page 5 Neighborhood Voices

The Lot Next Door, page 6 Calling All Citizens for Citizen Participation, page 7 Thoughts from Audrey Browder, page 8 Coping with Depression and Housing Concerns, page 9 Changing the Irish Channel, page 10

The News from IndyMedia, page 12

In the Spotlight

Filmore’s Future with FEMA, page 16

People in your Neighborhood

Reclaiming the Past: Promoting a Healthy Salvage Industry in New Orleans, page 18 Parents Support Warren Easton’s Recovery, page 20 The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Post Office, page 21 Adopt-A-Neigborhood Launches in New Orleans East, page 22 Is Anybody Home? New Orleans by the Numbers, page 23 New Orleans Shelters and Social Services for the Homeless, page 24 Homes without a Home, page 25 New Orleans Housing Questions Nobody Answers, page 26

Hightlights from the Festival of Neigborhoods, page 13

LSU/VA: Complicated and Confusing, 28

Stay Local!

Rethink

Ace is the Place, page 14

Transient Blues Back in Mid-City, page 15

Barack Obama: Where Does He Stand on Education?, page 29

Ask City Hall, page 30 Community Events, page 31

Letter to the Editor To the Editor: I want to thank everyone who made our Easter Parade such a joyous and festive occasion. Thank you wonderfully creative people who paraded with the best costumes, banners and throws ever. Thank you everyone who came out and cheered us on and who took pictures and shot footage. Thank you NOPD for doing your usual stellar job providing parade escorts. Thank you Grand Marshall and Dukes of Debris for cleaning up while having a good time. Thank you to those who got the Opposite Machine going - Helen would have been overjoyed. Thank you all: individuals, families, organizations and businesses who joined the club and made donations. Thank you especially Michael Joseph and Clifford McPeek, for providing our live music! It was a beautiful day and only one thing marred it - the absence of the Frederick Douglass Marching Band. They were our centerpiece; it was to be their moment to parade, for the first time since Katrina, in their own neighborhood, past their own school, for their friends, families and neighbors. Just over an hour before the lineup time, I got a call informing me that the band director was canceling due to illness. This was a terrible blow, but the biggest blow came when I discovered that the band itself had not been informed. They showed up, over 20 strong and on time, dressed and ready to play. They only needed their instruments. We tried unsuccessfully to raise someone - anyone - who could get the instruments for them. But the timing was just too close, and the frustration and disappointment we felt was mirrored a hundredfold on the faces of the kids who came to play. We hear over and over how kids with nothing to do are running amok, how music heals, how marching bands give discipline and exposure to young musicians, how we have to preserve our culture of taking it to the streets with parades, second lines and funerals. The beating heart of this recovery school, already on life support, is weakened even further when things like this happen. These kids deserve a lot better. This parade was made possible by a grassroots fundraising effort (no single contribution was larger than $150), and a lot of our success was based on the promise of showcasing the Frederick Douglass Band. It was doable. But somehow it couldn’t be done. Thanks again to the great kids and their parents who came out -- you have our respect and our promise to make things work better for you. We are proud of you, and can’t wait to march with you next time. Sincerely, Kathy Connolly, Organizer Goodchildren Carnival Club (504)942-850


NPN’s The Trumpet

5

Stories from the YMCA’s Adult Education Program A

s part of the Trumpet’s continuing and changing outreach in New Orleans, our editorial staff met with writing students at the YMCA Adult Education center to talk about the paper, their lives in New Orleans and hopes for the future. Enclosed is the first of what we hope will be a series of pieces written by the people who attend the center, which is above the Public Library at 219 Loyola. Calvin Collins, Jr. is a 48-year-old resident of New Orleans. When we spoke with him, he shared photo albums and stories about his relatives before insisting we print the following excerpts from his journals. October 24, 2007 at 12:43 p.m. My Dream Trip to New York

I want to go to New York City. I want to check out the Empire State Building or go to see the Statue of Liberty. I want to go to

Ellis Island. I want to go to Ground Zero. I want to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. I will visit Lincoln Tunnel and Grant’s Tomb. I want to ride on the subway. I want to go to the Apollo Theater. I want to take a taxi across the Brooklyn Bridge. I want to go to see The David Letterman Show. I will go to see art at MOMA. I want to go to Broadway. I will go to see the Lion King. I will see the New York Knicks. I will see the Yankees. I would like to see the New Orleans Saints vs. the New York Jets. I will go to Central Park. I will walk my dog there. I will see Saturday Night Live and laugh. I will eat New York Pizza. I will go to N.B.C. New York News. I want to go to a New York City Tour. I want to see the Music Hall of Radio City. I would like to go eat at the Hard Rock. I would like to see B.B. King sing. I like to see the Chrysler Building. I would like to see the United Nations Building. I would like to go to see Grand Central Station. I want to go see the Museum of Natural History. That is my dream trip. November 5, 2007 at 3:57 p.m.

I want go to hollywood California my dream trip to califoria. I want to check out the Griffith observatory. I like to go to

museum of meteors and comets. I like to walk ON Hall of fame movie stars Bob Hope, Antonio Banderas, Any Clyde, Clayton Moore, George Reeves, Roy Rogers, Dean Martin, Dale Evans, Pat Boone, Ross Martin, Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Land, Christopher Reeve, Christopher Reeve, I like to see hollywood wax museums. Another Ripley’s believe it or not wax museum. I like to see knott’s farm ‘o6:13 axe murder manon.

Tashyra Marshall is, in her own words, “outspoken, but shy.” A young New Orleans single mother, she prides herself on her

skills in poetry and language. She talked with us about New Orleans in a more general sense, explaining the importance of trying to “get back” and accepting that “a lot of stuff we miss” is gone. Tashyra lives in the Carrollton area, near Elysian Fields, While initially upset by the storm and subsequent relocations (she could only pack “three days of clothes”), Tashyra insists that she “likes to travel” and plans to. Of her hopes for the city, she mentions wishing “everything could be what it was before” and that more people would realize that, “you have your talents right in front of you.” She also dreams of retiring to run a restaurant/hair salon by 35. Tashyra has a two-year-old daughter who she hopes to raise to have the best, as long as she understands that “nothing happens over night.” -compiled by Alethia Picciola and Ted Hornick


6

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Neighborhood Voices The Opinions of New Orleans

The Trumpet has no responsibility for the views, opinions and information communicated here. Each article’s contributor(s) is fully responsible for content. In addition, the views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the the Trumpet.

The Jack-o’-Lantern Effect

and the Lot Next Door in New Orleans Nikki Najiola

town, as suggested by the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, they may be willing to move across t was my job to show Andres the street. With an organized plan, Duany around Gentilly, before our we might be able to facilitate a first planning charrette. Once he clustering initiative that would settled into the passenger seat of solve the problem of the gap tooth my SUV, I gave him my agenda syndrome. However, the question as for work in the community. With to by whom and with what funding the opportunity of fifty or so remained unanswered. Monies for urban planners from around the this are available from the Federal country focused on our twenty-two government, but need a state agency neighborhoods for just five days, I to request it and a local agency to wanted to make sure they understood administer it. Our state officials exactly what we needed. One of our failed to ask. The city’s planning several priorities was a solution to department was not equipped to the Jack-o’-lantern effect that would handle such an undertaking at the plague our neighborhoods. time. Like all other city agencies, Once he understood our most they were attempting to overcome pressing problems, we then the problem of a significantly proceeded to spend the next eight reduced work force and at the same hours touring the devastated areas time they were faced with rebuilding of Gentilly. It was not difficult for the city’s infrastructure. The Mayor’s the New Urbanist guru to absorb office was busy determining its next the complexity of the situation. steps. The BNOB “green dots” had The time was April 2006. Very few been received in such a negative residents had returned, and the green way, the Mayor scrapped his entire dot debacle had just barely faded plan. This was also at the time his from the headlines. We were just administration was beginning to beginning to hear of the possibility prepare for re-election. The state was of federal grant money coming too busy trying to build the Road through a state recovery programs. Home Foundation to consider the No one knew what to expect for long term effects of New Orleans’ our neighborhoods. flooded neighborhoods. This is just Over the course of the charrette, another example of failed leadership we discovered that if people were the people suffered at a time when not interested in moving across we needed it the most. NPN Board Member,Oak Park Resident

I

During the charrette, discussions, debates, and deliberations on this matter and others transpired. At the conclusion, we realized that in order to restore our property values and quality of life we would have to alter the fabric of our neighborhoods by re-examining what we consider the norm to be. Mine is not a typical New Orleans neighborhood. I live in one of the first slab-on-grade ranchstyle neighborhoods in the city. It was built in the mid-Fifties. At that time, it was considered a “suburb.” Prior to its development the area was semi-rural. By redefining normal lot size, we might create a new version of semi-rural.

producing what is now known as the “Lambert Plan”. In March of last year, they appeared before the City Council’s Housing & Human Needs Committee. By communicating the sentiments of the majority of residents, they went on record urging City Council to create a mechanism for property owners to acquire the adjacent property if it is donated or sold to the state. In addition, many grassroots activists also appeared to express overwhelming support for a program that would offer the first right of refusal to the adjoining property owner of properties sold to the Road Home Foundation. City Council passed an ordinance endorsing the concept. At that time, The Lot Next Door Plan is however, it was still unclear as to Hatched who would finally acquire ownership of those properties in the interim. Our conversations were not Since then, it has been determined occurring in a bubble. Floodthat New Orleans Redevelopment ravaged neighborhoods across the Authority would become the holder city were contemplating similar of the titles. scenarios. Members of the Lower Omeed Snathe of NORA has Nine Neighborhood Council were repeatedly declared in public addressing the issue even before meetings that NORA supports the Hurricane Katrina and were pressing concept of the “Lot Next Door” for a solution that would allow but has reservations regarding neighbors to acquire adjoining the success of such a program. properties. According to Snathe, a pilot Eventually Paul Lambert and program in the Lower Ninth Sheila Danzy were contracted by the met with limited success due to City Council to perform a planning lack of financial resources of the process in the wet neighborhoods, adjacent homeowners. NORA itself has had few opportunities to boast its successes, and should withhold judgment until a fullfledged program is fleshed out. It is the residents’ contention that each community’s make-up and circumstances is different and NORA should allow the citizens to determine the success of a

. . . each community’s make-up and circumstances is different and NORA should allow the citizens to determine the success of a program.


NPN’s The Trumpet

7

program. Nor can NORA afford to assume a one-size-fits-all solution to any of the problems our neighborhoods are facing. The “Lot Next Door” program may prove to more successful in some neighborhoods than others. Also, it should not be the only method utilized to overcome the jack o’lantern problem. NORA could receive anywhere from 4000 to 7000 properties, in addition to the thousands of properties it controlled prior to the storm. According to their reports, they will not know for an undetermined period of time how many, or which properties they will own. The “Lot Next Door” initiative is a common sense strategy. In the end, it may be just too simple for government to accept. Learn more about the ‘Lot Next Door’ at NORA’s monthly Board Meetings. They are held the second Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. Map courtesy of NORA

Calling

ALL Citizens

to this email to confirm your vote. Your vote will not count if you do not confirm it via 2. Follow the instructions this e-mail. BNO/MAC and Select the project titled Citizen Only one vote per e-mail NPN’s New Orleans Citizen Participation, Keith Twitchell, address will be allowed, Participation project have been New Orleans, and any other but please tell everyone selected as a finalist in the three projects. you know who loves New Case Foundation’s “Make It Orleans about this so they Your Own Awards” national 3. After you cast your can help us fund the Citizen competition. Now it is up to ballot, a new screen will Participation Project. This the citizens and friends of New appear. Please continue project will enable citizens Orleans to determine if this to follow the instructions, to design a permanent project is one of four that will including entering your e-mail. mechanism for engagement receive $25,000 in funding as with city government, and part of a worldwide on-line 4. Once you have help make sure that the people vote. To cast your vote to fund completed the process, you of New Orleans have a real citizen participation in New will receive an email from the voice in the future of their Orleans, please follow these Case Foundation. It is very neighborhoods and their steps: important that you respond city. These funds will help Keith Twitchell President of CBNO/MAC

C

1. Go to http://www. casefoundation.org/myvote.

us realize that dream. Voting ends on April 22, so please act quickly. The Case Foundation is also giving $2500 to charities selected by the first ten people to vote for the four winning projects, so you have an opportunity to help your other favorite organizations as well. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our city, so please cast your vote today! On behalf of NPN, CBNO/ MAC, our other partners and the people of New Orleans, we thank you in advance for supporting this project. Learn more about CPP at any of our upcoming meetings or by e-mailing Breonne@npnnola.com


8

March / April 2008

NPN’s The Trumpet

Pinch Me. This Must be A Dream Audrey Browder

Winner of The Trumpet’s Model Citizen Award

D

id they really give me an award for being a model citizen or was I just dreaming that I received one, on March 8, 2008? I keep thinking this must be a dream and I will wake up, and the award I so proudly display in my office will be gone. Poof! Vanished. The reality still has not sunk in yet. In my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would be the recipient of such an honor. My friends must be sharing the same dream as I get calls of congratulations and assertions like, “You deserve it.” from them. So I slowly come to the conclusion that this is reality and not a dream after all, and I ask, “why me?” As I look back over my life I try to see what could have lead to this honor. It dawns on me that, possibly, it has something to do with my love of and continuous efforts in my community as an activist for many years. This dream has evolved into a reflection made up of self-analysis and I have a glimmer of what might have brought me to this point. As I look back, I see a focus on building up communities for nearly twenty years by participation in both civic and religious organizations. As a colleague once introducing me concluded, “Audrey has held leadership roles as a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer in almost every organization she has been involved with.” Presently, that has resulted in being Chairperson of the Central City Partnership; Co-chair of TURN (Trinity Undoing Racism Network); Vice President to the board of NHS (Neighborhood Housing Services); Treasurer of Ground Works N.O.; Vice President to the Holy Ghost

Photo by Mia Partlow

Catholic Church Pastoral Parish Council (formerly President); board member of Business Resource Capital; board member of Early Childhood and Family Learning Foundation; and Project Manager for the Pontilly Disaster Recovery Center. In addition to serving as lector at Holy Ghost Church, I am founder of the Social Justice Ministry group there. Frequently, I am asked how I can be so involved in all those organizations. For me, the answer is obvious. How can I not be involved and of service to others and my community? How can I

sit idly by and not help to make this world better? How can I not care? As I conclude my reflection, I know that being a Model Citizen carries great responsibilities. It requires a quest for high standards, determination, and a vision. It requires sincerity and love of God and of community. It means simply a code of ethics that I have adopted: to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right place for the right reasons. This is the philosophy I live by and it is not a dream. It is the reality of my life.


NPN’s The Trumpet

9

Mental Care and Homelessness Marcia Wall French Quarter Colunmist

illness that garner the most attention, the stories that we remember long after they make the news are those that we find sensational, those that involve violence fter tragedies such as the or gross abuse of others. Can anyone tornadoes that hit Tennessee last month forget the shocking story of Andrea or our own Hurricane Katrina, people Yates, the mentally ill mother convicted often say that they survived because of drowning her five children in the “God was watching over me.” When bathtub? That was seven years ago. I hear that, I always wonder if those Outrageously disgraceful as it people think that God was somehow may seem, homelessness and its ignoring or neglecting those who connection to mental illness is neither perished. The way I understand it, God sensational nor shocking. Of late, is everywhere, and surely the Deity the local media have highlighted the cannot love some of us more than problem of homelessness in our city others. Unless we actively engage in and have noted its connection to our behavior that breeds tragedy (drunk post-K mental care crisis. I would driving, armed robbery, or going home believe that this is due in large part with a total stranger for example), our to the recent hyper-visibility of both misfortunes can often be attributed issues. Homeless people lived among to “being at the wrong place at the us prior to the tent cities erected on wrong time” or something else equally the grassy knoll of City Hall and later arbitrary or beyond our own control. on the dirty, cold pavement of the Surely mental illness falls under one of Claiborne underpass. Even before it those categories. made the news, our mental health care We know that in many cases, the system suffered from cracks, loop mental health care system in this holes, indifference and lack of sufficient country fails to effectively treat those funds. Where were the TV cameras who are ill. The massacre that took and the front page stories then? I am place at Virginia Tech almost a year ago not accusing the media of neglect or was the work of a young man who had indifference, but I am pointing out drifted in and out of the mental health that homelessness, mental illness, and care system since his days in middle their causal relationship are always our school. Our own Nicola Cotton, the problems, even if we are not directly young NOPD officer recently slain, was confronted with them. killed by a schizophrenic man known to The theme of this month’s Trumpet

A

renter’s rights, modular homes, neighborhood activism, rebuilding obstacles and triumphs, just to name a few. Homelessness, specifically the causes of homelessness, must be counted among these issues. While the City and non-profit organizations like Unity work to find housing for homeless folks, the forces that drive homelessness (our dysfunctional mental health care system, for example) march on. I am not the first person to make the link between our city’s homeless and mental health care problems. I do think, however, that I am one of the few public voices to say that the crisis of our mental care system is part and parcel of our housing crisis. When it comes to addressing the housing problems in New Orleans, we can repaint, rebuild, regulate, reimburse, renovate, renew, reinvent, re-plan, reimagine, reorganize, renegotiate, re-zone, remove, reassemble, remediate, refine, revise, restrain, restore, retool, reapply, rebel, rebuff, retreat, reclaim, reprimand, repeal, repay, reconsider, redo, redirect, relocate, reinforce, refurbish, rehabilitate, re-design, refute, redecorate, recreate, react, re-elect, revitalize, respond, reinstall, revolt, revamp, retain, research, reduce, re-establish, replant, rewire, reconstruct, remix, retouch, remark, require, replenish, resist, reorder, rejoice, readjust, reallocate, revive,

reinvest, rework, reanalyze, retract, reapply, refuse, reassess, reattach, reinstate, replicate, repossess, reclassify, recommend, redefine, redistrict, reequip, recite, reintroduce, reiterate, re-key, replace, refasten, refocus, reinstitute, replaster, re-measure, repackage, refrain, reinvestigate, revive, re-examine, reflect, refer, re-form, and refresh. We can “re” anything with regards to our housing issues except redeem ourselves and fully resolve our housing crisis unless we repair our mental health care system first. We cannot forget that. I live with bipolar disorder. No one should infer from this essay that I a) demonize mentally ill people, or 2) assume that all people with severe mental illness are doomed to tragic fates—far from it. I live a sane and stable life, as do many others in my situation. My health can be attributed in part to my mother being a professional counselor, a loving and financially comfortable family, good psychiatric care and prescription coverage courtesy of Chartres-Pontchartrain Mental Health Center (a state-funded entity), a gifted therapist, my own will to survive, the right combination of medications, and most of all, that intangible and highly arbitrary thing called chance. This much I know for sure: God does not love me more than anyone else.

Homelessness and its connection to mental illness is neither sensational nor shocking.

be a danger to himself and others. It is common knowledge that a significant percentage of those who are homeless in this country suffer from severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. I would not be surprised if I were to learn that many more people become homeless as the result of living with someone who is very mentally ill - I know of a young woman who ran away from home because her mother, an alcoholic ill with manic-depression, beat her repeatedly. Tales of mental illness as they relate to homelessness do not often make the news. The stories of mental

deals with the varied multitude of housing issues facing New Orleans, of which there are many: blight, skyrocketing rents, the controversy surrounding public housing, lack of affordable housing, the racist and classist implications of these issues, “green” and sustainable building practices, the ”condo-ization” of the housing market, FEMA trailers, historic preservation, landlord / tenant relationships, abandoned houses, the “jack-o-lantern effect,” renovation, the “right to return,” urban and suburban concerns, the “buyer’s market,” rezoning issues, substandard housing,


10

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Changing the Irish Channel Charles Burck

Irish Channel Neigborhood Association

At an Irish Channel

Neighborhood meeting last fall, President Ed McGinnis asked residents to consider partnering with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority to put some of the Channel’s blighted properties up for sale. Frankly, there was some skepticism. In recent years, NORA has been something of a blighted property itself, unable to deliver on its mission. In fact, some of the rundown properties in the neighborhood were ones that NORA had taken over at one time

or another. There were also concerns about defining the association’s responsibilities in the process of selecting developers. Nevertheless, we agreed that it was worth a try, and we’re very glad we did. Though we are still in the early stages of this collaboration, it seems clear that this is a new NORA, committed to doing its job and to taking neighborhood wishes into account. We have nothing but praise for the people we’ve worked with, including Chris Gobert, Darrick LeBeouf and Omeed Snathe. As the first of its kind, the ICNA/ NORA partnership is a small-scale pilot project. But in the larger scheme of things, it is on track to become a model for the authority’s

These are properties that will be renovated thoughout the next year due to the ICNA/NORA collaboration. Photos courtesy of the ICNA.

future partnerships with community groups. Here’s how it has progressed so far. One thing NORA got from us was legwork. We’d already done a lot of it, because the project originated literally at street level. ICNA had been doing a biweekly series of trash pickups in the Channel, with the dual goals of making the neighborhood cleaner and building community spirit. We’d all seen plenty of blight before, of course, but picking up trash in front of it drove home the magnitude of the problem. We also found ourselves listening sympathetically to owners of neighboring homes who were upset and frustrated by the lack of action. “We need to do something about this,” Ed said one day. But what? Based on past experience, calling the city to complain wouldn’t accomplish much. But if the ICNA presented it with a catalog of blight in the Channel--a report documenting the rundown properties--we might have more leverage. Over the course of several weeks, Ed and board Zoning Committee Chair Michelle Kimball photographed and recorded the addresses of every blighted property in the Channel, and compiled information on ownership and tax records. In all, they identified nearly 100 properties in bad shape, making

special note of neglected properties owned by developers who had previously bought them from NORA. They found an eager facilitator in Councilmember Stacy Head, who helped us get NORA’s attention and persuaded the agency that the Channel would be a good place to do a test run of community involvement. It took more than two weeks of further work in conjunction with NORA staffers to complete the background information. Since the city’s various databases were often incomplete or contradictory, much time was spent cross-checking between the assessor’s website, the property database and the tax records. Winnowing out properties that were adjudicated, had not been declared blighted, or were otherwise unsuitable brought the number of eligible properties down to 39. In a final review, NORA’s staff and attorneys judged that no more than 13 would be immediately actionable, with three eligible for the Lot Next Door program and the remainder to be expropriated for renovation or development. ICNA leaders then met with Councilmember Head and NORA to define ICNA’s responsibilities in the partnership. In the model they worked out, the association would submit criteria to be included in NORA’s Request for


NPN’s The Trumpet

overwhelming support for our goals, though some of the particulars turned out to be a bit too ambitious. We wanted to encourage renovation or construction of doubles whose owners would live in one side and rent the other--a model many people consider ideal for creating stable Refining the criteria rental properties. But we soon learned that there’s no way to ensure Our next step was to pin down the ideal outcome--you can’t require the specific RFQ criteria we purchasers to live in their new wanted NORA to add. A newlyhomes, so in practice, the doubles formed NORA subcommittee could be turned into pure rental drew up a tentative list. From the properties. The Channel already has outset, we wanted to make sure a lot of rental units with absentee that a substantial percentage of landlords, and we agreed that there the properties would end up as wouldn’t be much point in adding affordable housing. In recent years, more at bargain prices to the owners. a growing share of the Channel’s We also had hoped to give housing stock has been upgraded by preference to first responders-new owners who have moved in and police, fire, and other emergency renovated. In general, the changes service workers. These people have begun at Magazine Street and rarely make enough to pay Orleans spread slowly toward the river. Parish prices. Unfortunately, they While most of the Channel’s housing also make too much to qualify for riverside of Annunciation Street is programs designed for affordable still in the low- to moderate-income housing. category, the mix will clearly In all other respects, the criteria continue to change. Our aim was to that NORA will be incorporating help preserve the essential character into its RFQ met our major goals. of one of the city’s most diverse Six of the ten properties not eligible neighborhoods. for the Lot Next Door program will The proposals got a thorough be dedicated to affordable housing. workout at a general membership The three vacant lots are intended meeting. We received further for buyers with 80 percent or less community input at a public meeting of the area median income (AMI), for all interested people; at the currently about $32,000 for a single January 12 “NORA Unconference” person to $60,000 for a family sponsored by Think New Orleans; of eight. Three of the remaining and from leaders of a major nonseven will be targeted to buyers profit housing group. with 80 percent to 115 percent The end result reflected (approximately $46,000 to $86,000)

11

Qualifications (RFQ), which set out the requirements prospective developers have to meet. The association would also review the developers’ proposals and provide comments, with NORA making the final decisions.

These are properties that will see renovations thoughout the following year due to the ICNA/ NORA collaboration. Photos courtesy of the ICNA.

of the AMI. The others will be sold at market rates. Developers will have the option of bidding on all ten properties, or separately on the three low income homes and the seven higher income/market rate properties. It’s most likely that bidders on the affordable units will be nonprofit organizations, which can provide “soft second” mortgages of up to $25,000 that are interest-free and repaid only when the owner sells or refinances, and low-interest loans to help with down payments or rehab costs.

The takeaway Our advice to any neighborhood contemplating a similar partnership with NORA is simple: Be proactive

and helpful, and do your research. There’s no question in our minds that our own efforts helped make the partnership a reality. Our legwork not only showed that we were serious and acting in good faith, it also was important for an agency short of staff and faced with overwhelming demand for its services. The story isn’t finished, of course. A lot of work still lies ahead, along with some uncertainty. NORA is waiting for the funding it needs to start expropriating properties, and we can’t be certain about how many developers will be interested in working with ten or fewer properties. But given our willingness to do what needs to be done and NORA’s clear interest in making the partnership succeed, we’re hopeful.


12

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

The News from

Indymedia

New Orleans Indymedia is a website for everyone to self-publish articles, photos, audio and video for the world to see. Every reader is a reporter with

something to contribute. The website allows people to bypass corporate/government filters and allows readers to receive information directly from others. The New Orleans branch started locally in 2003, but the worldwide Indymedia Network established its first chapters in 2000 to create an alternative non-commercial model for grassroots journalism on topics of local, national and international concern. As a local unit, we seek to provide an open flow of information by and for Louisianans, particularly the greater New Orleans community and those who are typically under-represented in media production and content. If you want to become more involved in the decisions made about featuring stories and the management of the site, please e-mail us and/or come to our monthly public meetings that are listed on our site’s calendar! Share your stories with your community and the world: http://neworleans.indymedia.org/publish.php or contact us: imc-neworleans@lists.indymedia. org -New Orleans Indymedia Team

NEWS CLIPS Saint Bernard Parish to Demolish Hundreds of Homes Feb. 19, 2008 -- During the early afternoon of Saturday, February 16th, 2008 residents of Saint Bernard Parish discovered red “X’s” stuck on the doors of their homes. These markers, posted on hundreds of neighborhood homes by the Saint Bernard Parish Government, are Notices and Orders of Involuntary Demolition. They give residents little hope of being able to reverse the condemnation statuses of their properties. The Notice and Order of Involuntary Demolition states that tagged properties are not in current compliance with Minimum Housing Standards and gives homeowners 10 days (not business days) to appeal the condemnation status of their homes. The accompanying Notice of Condemnation also posted on some doors on February 16th states that filing an appeal does not in itself change the condemnation status, but merely gives the homeowner the right to a hearing prior to demolition of the structure being officially ordered.

“We Will Not Stand Idly” By:” Vigil Marks Guantanamo Day of Awareness and Action

Jan. 11, 2008 -- As federal employees emptied out of the Haley Boggs Federal Building on Poydras street this afternoon, they were met with an unusual and uncomfortable sight. Outside of the front entrance of the federal building were eight Guantánamo “detainees,” clad in orange jumpsuits and black head coverings to simulate the first pictures of the prisoners being held there in 2002. Though the protest group in New Orleans was small—eight detainees and another half dozen supporters—their actions occurred today in conjunction with dozens of other similar actions and consciousness-raising events around the United States and around the world. Hundreds of pedestrians and motorists slowed down as they passed by to examine the brightly dressed group.

United Nations Representative Speaks in Gentilly Jan. 17, 2008 -- Speaking in front of over 100 people in Gentilly’s Tulane Memorial Baptist Church, Walter Kalin, the United Nations representative on Internally Displaced Persons, balanced the talk between dry international law language and a compassion for the demands of people from the Gulf Coast to return. He reinforced the United Nations commitment to human, social, economic and cultural rights of those citizens displaced by Hurricane Katrina. However, Kalin remained indirect and politically correct in his characterization of the U.S. government’s response to the disaster, saying his role is intergovernmental.


NPN’s The Trumpet

13

Highlights from

the

Festival of Neighborhoods For NPN and our neighborhood allies, the first weekend of March meant celebrating. The organization celebrated not only the non-profits and activists of the city, but the city itself! The crowning achievement of our three-pronged Crescent City event was the Festival of Neighborhoods, a spectacle in Gentilly featuring more than twenty neighborhoods and countless guests! Don’t worry if you missed it plans are already underway for next year!

Photos by Shawn Chollette


14

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Ace is the Place its roots deep in the soil of New Orleans. Oak Ace has been a fixture at Oak and Cambronne for its 37 years of business. Established at its current ak Ace Hardware is location in 1971, Oak Ace and its definitely not the biggest store in owner Bruce Foret have seen the town but what it lacks in square neighborhood and their business footage it more than makes up for model change over the years. in know-how, convenience and According to Mr. Foret, when character. Located in the heart of his father opened the business the Oak Street business district at Oak Ace used to be the place Oak and Cambronne Streets near to get an entire set of pipes for South Carrollton, Oak Ace has your house or other large-scale Ryan Schmitt staylocal.org

O

Ace Hardware is located on Oak Street at Cambronne. The store is known for its know-how, convenience and character. Photo by Ryan Schmitt.

Established at its current location in 1971, Oak Ace and its owner Bruce Foret have seen the neighborhood and their business model change over the years. Photo by Ryan Schmitt.

projects. “Everything started changing in about 1984 when the first Lowe’s opened in Jefferson Parish,” Mr. Foret remembers. “After that the larger projects became fewer and fewer.” “We still have the capacity and the know-how to do these large projects,” says Foret. “We just need to fight the perception that the big boxes are cheaper or are the only place to stock what you need.” Today, most Oak Ace customers are people who need to pick up something quick or need that certain bit of knowhow that they can’t get at the Lowe’s or Home Depot. Wheel barrows and trash cans are marketed out front, screen and lamp repair are advertised on a hanging sign. Oak Ace carries just about anything you might need at a moment’s notice—

everything from brooms and screwdrivers to iron skillets. That is precisely where Mr. Foret sees his market today, in a neighborhood niche but also as a place to get questions answered. “A lot of the folks that come in here anymore are carrying their Lowe’s or Home Depot bag and have a question that they couldn’t get answered—they come to us.” Customer service is what distinguishes Oak Ace from those big boxes today. At Oak Ace you’re quickly offered service and then helped to what you need so you can be on your way. Often, though, customers come to Oak Ace for more than just hardware, they come for a little bit of camaraderie. That’s something in demand no matter your store or its size.


NPN’s The Trumpet

15

New Orleans’ TRANSIENT BLUES Back in Mid-City, New Orleans after school tutoring program for Mid-City students. To date, I have two regular students. These students and their families remind me of hen I moved to New the neighbors I miss so much from Orleans in 2003, I moved to Midthose days on Banks Street. They City. My family was residing on are hard-working. When I say that, Banks Street at the time, and I I mean that they have a work ethic quickly felt at home there. The that never stops. I cannot help but neighborhood had a good vibe. stand in awe of their dedication to People were friendly, no matter self improvement and community the time of day or night. Banks improvement. This dedication is not Street Grocery was such a familiar defined by the hours that schools daily destination that even the may be open, or by the traditional family dog knew the way. Once five day a week, eight hour a day in a while, the little terrier would work schedule. This dedication break away and take off, only to be depends and operates on one found later sitting ever so patiently question: How can we be better? by the door of the neighborhood And Mid-City is getting better. market with the knowledge in her The Mid-City Library is open six little dog memory bank that one days a week (closed on Fridays and of us would eventually make our Sundays), and resources there are way there and collect her. At one always improving. Card holders can end of our street, there were the sign in to use the lap-top computers cemeteries situated on the corner and can fax or copy documents. of Canal Street. If we ventured out New book donations are always towards the other direction, there coming in and being added to the was the novelty of Banks Street existing collection of reference Bar, with its cheap drinks and materials, fiction, non-fiction, live music almost every night of children’s books and periodicals. the week. In between all of that, The crew of librarians is a helpful, we had our front porch and the knowledgeable, friendly and goodneighbors who were always out humored bunch. and about, always up to something, Each Wednesday morning at and always smiling and waving as ten, the library hosts a story time they passed. for young children in its children’s That was Banks Street in 2003, room. And there is, of course, the soon before I moved closer to after school tutoring program, where uptown and felt the pull of sidewalk I meet with students Mondaycafes and street car tracks and coffee Thursday from three to six. shops on every corner. I have to The area around Mid-City confess to not stopping in to the old Library is hardly a ghost town neighborhood very much after the these days either, with restaurants move. I also admit to missing those and coffee shops within walking friendly and laid-back neighbors distance. The coffee is good and the almost immediately. Following food is made fresh. So, you might Katrina, it broke my heart to hear of want to check out a book from the the destruction in the neighborhood. library and take it with you to read But now I’m back in Mid-City to over coffee. work, and it’s a good feeling. I am happy to be back in MidIn October of last year, I took a City for part of my day. In some position with Literacy*AmeriCorps ways, it is like coming full circle and the relatively new Mid-City after the storm. And in other ways, Library. My mission: to start an it is just like going home again. Shana Dukes Broadmoor Colunmist

W

The sculpture by Madeleine Faust at the corner of Canal Street and Carrolton Avenue is a distinctive marker of the Mid-City neighborhood. Photo by Alethia Picciola.


IN THE

16

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

SPOTLIGHT Filmore’s

Future with FEMA

Elizabeth Falcon and Ted Hornick NPN Staff

Carmen Owens and Mayor Ray Nagin cut the ribbon on Filmore Gardens’ new FEMA-funded road. Photo by Elizabeth Falcon.

“This is just the beginning,”

$300,000. Mendoza also said that, in the future, citizens could expect is a promise that is heard often in “a lot of work on minor streets . city government and especially . . [and with the] submerged road recently in New Orleans. On March program.” He also guaranteed that, 10, city officials celebrated a newly in time, “The program will evolve paved section of street in Filmore . . . it is going to pick up speed and Gardens. On Wildair Drive, a momentum . . . this is the transition group of high-ranking authorities from walking and crawling to including Mayor Nagin, Dr. Blakely running.” and Councilwoman Cynthia HedgeWhen asked to comment further Morrell, officiated at the first FEMA- on the proceedings, Dr. Blakely funded street and sidewalk repairs recounted his early despair at having for New Orleans. The repairs there to bike to the site and then “walk in,” are the first of a proposed 6,000. due to the muddiness of the damaged Director of Public Works Robert roads. Councilwoman HedgeMendoza recalled his experiences Morrell added that this project will at the site, describing the postbe important to the “People [who] Hurricane path as a “muddy rut.” lost so much,” and encouraged all to He also credited the contractors “remember them.” responsible for doing “a fantastic Fay Kaufman and Carmen Owens job,” with the total cost for the are two of Filmore Gardens’ most area’s road improvement placed at active members. Ms. Kaufman is the “facilitator” of the Filmore Gardens Neighborhood Association; she refuses to take the title “president.” A few weeks ago, these two and a few others sat together around Ms. Owens’ kitchen table and wrote the neighborhood association’s bylaws. The London Avenue Canal breach was in this neighborhood, and from that table you can see where the rebuilt levee meets the old one. If

This map drawn by Fay Kaufman shows the boundaries of the Filmore Gardens neigborhood.

Bob Mendoza, Arnie Falkow and Ray Nagin Photo by Elizabeth Falcon.

you drive down the street at night, Ms. Owens’ newly renovated house is one of the few with its lights on. Ms. Owens and Ms. Kaufman discussed their memories and hopes for the future. Ms. Owens addressed concerns about the community returning, saying the street repairs are a “major step,” since “nobody wants to build a house you can’t get to.” She hopes that following FEMA’s actions, the city be able to sell the Road Home houses, and then encourage families to come back. Ms. Kaufman moved to Filmore Gardens in 1972 and raised her children in this neighborhood. She described the close relationships she had with

Debris from gutted houses remains on Wildair St. The Filmore Gardens community is working hard to restore their neighborhood,but many residetns are still unable to come home. Photo by Alethia Picciola.


NPN’s The Trumpet

One week after the ribbon cutting ceremony for Filmore Gardens’ new road, the pavemented started to collapse because parts of the road were not built on solid foundation. Photo by Alethia Picciola.

many of her neighbors who also had children. Now those children are grown, and many have left the area. The parents are older as well, and many have decided not to return, so the neighborhood needs new families. According to Ms. Kaufman, their association’s goals have switched from “getting in touch with people” to getting and keeping people in the neighborhood. While she insists that “prospects are vital” for the rebuilding to succeed, Kaufman is sure to warn any and all possible neighbors that they “don’t have forever.” Both agreed that “Schools coming back is important.” Ms. Kaufman added that a

small park on the intersection used to be filled with children, and that was where the school busses picked them up. Now, with the street repaired, she hopes the neighborhood will “utilize the park.” The street repairs in the area are also a sign of improvement for the neighborhood’s members. While excited at the groundbreaking, Carmen Owens added that, “most of us are still so overwhelmed . . . [after the storm,] I was so depressed, I didn’t know where I was half the time.” The neighborhood association’s members also emphasized their work together and their awareness of their

Kaufman is sure to warn any and all possible neighbors that they “don’t have forever” for the rebuilding to succeed.

17

W. Wilson shows off his newly renovated house on Wildair Drive. Photo by Alethia Picciola.

neighbors as beneficial to the community. Despite the success at Filmore Gardens and FEMA’s promises for future work in the area, there is a sad follow-up to this news. Just this past week, in an e-mail to Neighborhood Partnership Network, Fay Kaufman had this to say about the renovated road:

“Now this you won’t believe!!! Our newly FEMA-funded-2block-span repair of Wildair Drive has a large hole, ALREADY. Five days after the unveiling!!!’” She also hopes that New Orleans Inspector General Robert Cerasoli will be able to come to the area, and soon.

Fay Kaufman takes this opportunity to ask Mayor Ray Nagin about other issues affecting her neighborhood while television cameras roll. Photo by Elizabeth Falcon.


18

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

The People in your Neighborhood

Reclaiming the Past:

Promoting a Healthy Salvage Industry in New Orleans million dollars worth of reusable materials lay on the ground, in Mercy Corps Program Officer landfills, or in vacant houses awaiting demolition. These realities appear disconnected. econstructing a house is Embracing deconstruction and like an archeological excavationthe use of salvaged building carefully dissecting layers upon materials could reduce waste sent layers to discover the past. It to landfills by 50 - 70%, reduce is not uncommon to take down demand for new materials - saving a hundred-year-old structure contractors and homeowners and find remnants of building money - and foster a culture materials that date back a hundred of conservation and recycling. and fifty years. Materials from Reusing historic materials two or three retired homes preserves architectural heritage provided supplies to construct a and connects New Orleanians to new one. Salvage and building their proud past. materials reuse were the “green” Mercy Corps is an international building practices of our development and humanitarian ancestors’ times. Waste was a aid organization with programs luxury that previous generations in over 35 countries. The could simply not afford. Salvaged agency sent a response team materials were considered an to the Gulf Coast to conduct asset that builders reinvested disaster relief activities in back into the community. As a August of 2005. The Gulf Coast city of re-builders we must learn Hurricane Recovery Program from past generations and use was established thereafter to our resources wisely. Waste can address environmental, social, become a commodity if viewed and economic development issues differently and used appropriately. in the region. One of the principal Since August of 2005, over 20,000 intentions of the GCHR Program homes have been demolished and is to promote the practice of the number will rise before New full and partial deconstruction Orleans is rebuilt. Residents are as an alternative to demolition. spending millions of dollars on Deconstruction is defined as building materials to renovate, the systematic dismantling of a repair and rebuild damaged structure primarily using hand properties. An estimated five Suzy Mason

D

tools. Fully deconstructing a house is about four times as labor-intensive as demolition. This creates four times more living wage jobs for the local economy than demolition. The sale of materials offsets labor costs of deconstruction and generates tax revenue for local government. Homeowners and contractors who donate materials to local non-profit depots receive tax-deductible receipts and those homeowners and contractors who purchase reused materials pay substantially less than new products cost. Mercy Corps is working with local contractors, nonprofits, homeowners, building reuse depots and government to expand the salvage industry in New Orleans. MC supported capacity expansion of the Green Project and has seeded the start up the Old City Building Center, a project of the Mid City Neighborhood Organization. This Center will sell architectural salvage and house construction and deconstruction workforce training programs. MC is also working with local contractors and non-profit building agencies to expand salvage and reuse practices. In spring of 2007, Mercy Corps began a

deconstruction demonstration pilot program to document costs and benefits of deconstruction in New Orleans. The program entails sponsoring the deconstruction of 10-15 houses in various New Orleans area neighborhoods and documenting rates of waste, recycling, salvage, and labor costs. Materials from the deconstructions are donated to local depots, churches and nonprofits that aid in the affordable reconstruction of New Orleans housing. MC has completed the ninth house in the series and will soon begin its tenth. The agency has sponsored deconstructions in 7th Ward, Old Arabi, Treme, Tulane /Gravier MidCity, Central City and Holy Cross, Gentilly. Salvage recipients have included: the Green Project, the Old City Building Center, Rebuilding Together, UCC Beecher Church and Little Zion Baptist Church among others. Contact Mercy Corps’ Deconstruction Program Officer at (504) 525-5056 ext 201 to find out if your house could be included in the pilot program or if your agency would like to participate in future deconstruction trainings. A list of local resources and information are available at: www. gogreennola.org/deconstruction.

As a city of rebuilders we must learn from past generations and use our resources wisely.


NPN’s The Trumpet

“All ‘little’ magazines have the luxury of thinking

reader

the is the same person as their

editors.”

-William

Whitworth, Editor-in-Chief of the Atlantic Monthly

19


20

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Parents Support

Warren Easton’s Recovery Sydnee X. Logan Tulane Service Learning Student

T

akeisha Davis, MD/MPH, is finally situated in her new home in Algiers—but she’s not finished rebuilding. After Katrina, Takeisha became her teenage sister Natasha Charles’s guardian; like many New Orleanians with children, Davis is rebuilding both at home and at her sister’s school. It’s been two years since the Hurricane, but New Orleans’ public education system is barely crawling through flood, mold and wind-damage repairs for the fraction of public schools that have reopened. At Craig Elementary in Treme, the crumbling, leaky, mold-infested building was deemed unsafe by an environmental assessment and the school was forced to relocate while repairs were made— the third relocation in two school years. Other schools have permanently moved or closed. Katrina brought Warren Easton High School five feet of water, extensive electrical and plumbing damage and destroyed walls, flooring and furniture. In November 2005, some suggested the school be demolished and condos built in its place. Thanks to three “Bring Back Easton” rallies in February 2006 and $1.5 million in charter money for repairs, the school re-opened on September 7, 2006. Dr. Davis and her husband Wayland, their 15-month-old son Wayland, Jr. and younger daughter Natasha, recently followed Davis’ practice from their apartment in Houma to their new home in Algiers. The Davises bought their house, paid their insurance (incredibly high due to an uncompetitive

market), and can finally relax. For the first time since before the hurricane, Dr. Davis and her husband are not worried about finding a place to live. Before Katrina, the Davises were househunting from Davis’ mother’s home in the 7th Ward; they moved from Houston for her new job. Unfortunately they were unable to claim much money for their property since they were neither homeowners nor renters. Now, however, the Davis family’s personal living situation is secure. Warren Easton, however, has not yet obtained that security. “I’m not frustrated with the school,” Davis said. “They’re trying and it’s not their fault.” Much of the trouble is due to slow-moving funding. Warren Easton suffered $3 million in damages, and the original $1.5 million from the charter foundation and donations from various organizations and charities have not yet matched the damages. Building damage aside, Katrina also left Warren Easton’s students emotionally distressed. They did not have stable homes, many of their parents had lost jobs and they were always worried about themselves, their friends and their families. Davis’ younger sister, Natasha Charles, attended three schools since starting seventh grade in 2005. She has moved from Baton Rouge to Houston and back to New Orleans, and transitioned from living with her father, who lost his house and his job in Katrina, to being in her older sister’s care. Now their father lives and works in Baton Rouge. Most students have a story similar to Natasha’s. That upheaval can have a significant effect on students’ development

Lisa Roche, Yolande Sears, Karla Conrad, Takeisha Davis, Paulette Maurice and Joyce E. Colin, members of the Warren Easton PTSO, gather at the Alumni Festival on March 29. Photo courtesy of Joyce E. Colin.

and education. The school tries to provide a stable environment amid so much turmoil. Since students are finally home, the school invites them to share their flood stories through group storytelling, a form of group therapy. “The emotional support really impressed me,” Davis commented. Davis herself is actively involved in Warren Easton’s revival, and thinks more parents should be as well. When Natasha began ninth grade, Davis used the resources available to ensure her sister received a quality education. She became secretary of Warren Easton’s ParentTeacher-Student Organization (PTSO) so her opinion would matter in decision-making processes. Unfortunately, the PTSO is a largely untapped resource, only consisting of about 10 % of parents. “Many are very active trying to enroll their children in school, but drop off when they think the school is back,” said Davis. “Parents aren’t uninterested; they’re busy rebuilding their own homes and

jobs. We just try to think of more convenient ways to get parents involved.” One PTSO solution is the website Parents Connect, which allows parents to chat with teachers about students’ progress and grades. “But again that’s based on computer access and computer literacy, which not all parents have,” said Davis. Another initiative is the newsletter sent home with students. This way, parents at least know about the school’s renovation progress and educational advances. Research shows parental involvement in a child’s education is a major factor in the child’s success. Volunteering in her sister’s PTSO is a step toward an enriched education for Natasha, lends support to the administration’s educational initiatives, and allows Davis’s opinions to be heard in Warren Easton’s recovery process. “Katrina gave us a blank slate to rebuild better schools for the future,” Davis said.


NPN’s The Trumpet

The

Squeaky Wheel

Gets the

Post Office

Elizabeth Falcon

NPN Membership Coordinator

A

The transfer facility on St. Bernard Avenue and Florida temporarily serves as the post office for Gentilly residents. Photo by Alethia Picciola.

As the city of New Orleans prepares to demolish the St. Bernard Housing Projects, the belongings of former residents are thrown out into the streets. Many residents claim that there was no opportunity to collect their belongings and to do so they would have to trespass on government property. Although the facts are unclear, one thing is certain: the state of affordable housing in New Orleans is dismal.

Photos by Katherine Delia Hunter-Lowrey

21

s the liaison for Gentilly, I have heard a lot about the need for a new Post Office. The community did not accept an initial proposal that would leave them without a post office. Instead, they got organized around the issue and many neighborhood presidents wrote letters, including Meg O’Connell, president of the Burbank Gardens Neighborhood Association. She called for a post office to be reopened, saying, “I am asking on behalf of my neighborhood . . . and other residents of Gentilly that a full service Post Office be established where we formerly had one. In spite of many setbacks and bureaucracy from the many entities we have

to deal with, our residents have managed to organize themselves, help each other to rebuild (stronger and safer), and better the area by such initiatives as beautification . . . Please consider us as an area requiring valuable and much needed postal service and ensure that we will receive it.” Many other neighborhoods sent letters and ACORN told residents that they were working to bring the post office back also. A petition was started just before the March 6 announcement that a permanent Post Office will open in Gentilly by the end of this year. So, congratulations from NPN and the Trumpet to all the Gentilly folks who worked hard and worked together to bring back this important service to themselves and their neighbors!


22

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Adopt-A-Neighborhood Shawn Chollette

NPN Government and Institutional Liason

Help rebuilding the Melia and Rosedale neighborhoods has been sparse, but the small subdivisions in New Orleans East received muchneeded attention through a new program this past month. Adopt-A-Neighborhood, the initiative by Neighborhoods Partnership Network, helped facilitate partnerships among the neighborhoods, Princeton University and local organizations and businesses. As part of the project, Princeton students painted homes, planted flowers and removed debris, much of which had blighted the neighborhood for more than two years following Hurricane Katrina. In all, ten families were served during the week-long project. Cheryl Diggins, president of the Melia Neighborhood Association, said she and neighborhood residents are thankful for the help. “The lawns not getting cut and the piles of debris made it look like a slum area for those of us who have returned home and are back in houses,” Diggins said. “People here are very appreciative of what the Princeton students were able to do, we wish we could have done more . . .” Melia and Rosedale residents not only provided volunteers with lunch each day, they worked alongside students. Erica Clark, a sophomore pre-med student from Princeton

launches in New Orleans East and volunteer said interacting with neighborhood residents was a unique and deeply touching experience. “This is not a program about houses. It is not about destroyed property and old lawns full of debris. Instead the Partnership Network is about people; grieving people, enduring people, real people. To see the face of the older woman whose home I was helping mend, to hear her story, to sit and eat with her was an experience more lasting and more real than any news report or article,” Clark said.

“The program, to me, represents an invaluable opportunity to really help restore a community, enjoy some great soul food, and make some genuine new friends.” In addition to help from abroad, the project received support from local organizations and businesses as well. The Loews at Elysian Fields and Beacons of Hope donated virtually all the supplies needed for lawn care and clean-up activities. Metro Disposal provided debris removal services, and the Worker’s Resource

Center and Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office teamed up to provide a shelter, tables and chairs where students and residents ate lunch. Clark said she looks forward to the program growing. “I feel like a part of the beginning of something that promises to be a very powerful and effective program for both the neighborhoods of New Orleans and the program’s participants. It was honestly the best Spring Break I ever had and I’d love to come back and see how the program has blossomed.”

Eric Schlossberg, a sophomore computer science major at Princeton University, takes part in the Adopt-A-Neighborhood program by helping to paint the house of a New Orleans East resident. Princeton students spent an entire week painting, removing debris and mowing lawns. Photo by Ben Chen.


NPN’s The Trumpet

Elaine Ditsler

Data Specialist, GNOCDC

Despite a slowing U.S.

economy, New Orleans is making economic strides. Jobs continue to grow and unemployment rates are at all time lows. But a slowing population recovery — the first in nearly two years — could jeopardize these gains. While unemployment rates grew to 4.7 percent nationwide in November 2007, the unemployment rate in the New Orleans area fell to 3.4 percent. But gains in the number of households across the region– which had averaged 3,500 per month in the second year after the storm – started slowing in September 2007. From

To stay informed of our latest data and map products, sign up for our Numbers Talk e-newsletter at www.gnocdc.org

August to November, the six-parish New Orleans region gained a total of only 3,865 households. As a result, worker shortages exist for recovery-related jobs, such as architecture and home repairs, and for hospitality-related jobs such as cooks and restaurant servers. Nearly 20 percent of architecture and engineering jobs and 13 percent of food service jobs were vacant in 2007, compared to four percent preKatrina. The ability of New Orleans to attract and retain workers is dependent upon federal, state and local leaders working closely together to deliver on housing, infrastructure, and quality public services. The recent progress in these areas includes: • With the Road Home program fully funded, the Louisiana Recovery Authority approved $500 million in infrastructure repair grants for localities. About 90 percent of these funds will be allocated to New Orleans to rebuild some one hundred civic buildings and provide incentives for private investors to build in targeted recovery zones. • To ensure government accountability, the City Council allocated more than $3 million to fully fund the newly established Inspector General’s (IG) office.

These findings, and others, are available in the January 2008 New Orleans Index. Other key findings include: • Only 46 percent of FEMA funding for infrastructure repairs had reached localities by December. The greatest lags remain in Plaquemines and Orleans, where just 17.4 percent and 30.9 percent of funds have been paid out for local projects. • Public transportation in New Orleans remains limited, with open routes at 50 percent and buses at 19 percent of their pre-Katrina levels. • The number of Louisiana families living in trailers fell from 48,000 to 39,000 during the fourth quarter of 2007. • More than 50,000 Road Home applicants received home repair grants between August and December 2007 for a total of 91,000 closings. Another 94,000 applicants were still waiting. Published quarterly, The New Orleans Index tracks data to assess our city’s progress not only against pre-Katrina conditions but against the goals and aspirations set forth by the city and its citizens. An updated Index will be released mid-April, 2008. The New Orleans Index is published by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a product of Nonprofit Knowledge works. To stay informed of our latest data and map products, sign up for our Numbers Talk e-newsletter at www.gnocdc.org.

23


24

March / April 2008

NPN’s The Trumpet

New Orleans Shelters and Social Services for the Homeless Shawn Chollette Government and Institutional Liaison

1 BRIDGE HOUSE Address: 1160 Camp Street Phone: 504-522-2124 Services: Residential substance abuse treatment How you can help: donate clothing, food, furniture

7 N.O. AIDS TASKFORCE Address: 2601 Tulane Avenue Suite 500 Phone: 504-821-2601 Services: HIV/AIDS services How you can help: Donate clothing, food, and furniture

2 CATHOLIC CHARITIES Address: 1000 Howard Avenue Phone: 504-269-9311 Services: Transitional shelter, housing assistance, and employment services How you can help: Donate clothing, food, and furniture

8 LIVING WITNESS Address: 1528 O.C. Haley Phone: 504-524-2959 Services: Residential substance abuse treatment How you can help: Donate clothing, food, furniture, men’s clothing only

3 COVENANT HOUSE Address: 611 N. Rampart Street Phone: 504-584-1111 Services: Transitional/permanent housing, health services, childcare, and addiction management. How you can help: Clothing, food, furniture, and baby food 4 DROP-IN CENTER Address: 1428 N. Rampart Street Phone: 504-948-6701 Services: Healthcare/substance abuse counseling, mental health, and case management services for runaway and homeless youth. How you can help: Volunteers to help renovate center, install showers/ laundry facilities

5 HARRY TOMPSON CENTER Address: 1803 Gravier Street Phone: 504-273-5547 x 135 Services: Day program, shower/ laundry facilities, phones for long distance calls, hygiene kits, mental health, medical and legal services How you can help: Donate clothing, food, toiletries, laundry products, Bibles, reading glasses, bus tokens, book bags and back packs

6 NEW ORLEANS MISSION Address: 1129 Baronne Street Phone: 504-523-2116 Services: Emergency and transitional housing, meals, shower/ laundry facilities, education/job placement program How you can help: Donate clothing, food, and furniture

9 LOVE TOUCH MINISTRIES Address: 57th Fifth St., Gretna Phone: 504-362-7010 Services: Transitional housing, food bank, emotional well-being program, counseling, and afterschool tutoring How you can help: Clothing, food, furniture, blankets and coats 10

PROJECT LAZARUS Address: 2824 Dauphine St Phone: 504-949-3609 Services: Transitional housing and residential facility for people living with aids in the gulf coast region. How you can help: Donate clothing, food, and furniture

Canal/Claiborne Underpass UNITY of Greater New Orleans interviewed 300 people living under the overpass and came up with the following numbers

70% were disabled 35% suffered from 63% were first time 70% were New in some way

sort of mental illness

homeless

Orleans natives


NPN’s The Trumpet

25

Homes without a Home Shawn Chollette Government and Institutional Liaison

O rlando Brooks bounces up

a set of stairs, wearing a broad smile. His bed at the New Orleans Mission is a welcome sight. Brooks said he relocated from Chicago to New Orleans in hopes of finding a decent paying job, but when his money dried up, he started sleeping on the street. “I came here with my last paycheck looking for a better life, and I stretched that out as long as I could,” said Brooks, who now works as an evening steward at the J.W. Marriott. “It’s hard getting off of work, and then having to look forward to sleeping on the concrete. I tried that for a week . . .that ain’t cool” Brooks added. Officials at UNITY, a coalition of agencies working to end homelessness in New Orleans, estimate that there are 12,000 homeless people in the city. The number has doubled since Katrina. The stigma attached to the majority, that they are unemployed, drug abusers or simply looking for handouts. A resident of the New Orleans Mission since February, Brooks’ story is familiar to many that have either returned from displacement or simply relocated here to find work, but could not keep up with New Orleans’ continuously increasing cost of living. New Orleans had the eighth-lowest median income in America among big cities, pre-Katrina, according to a 2005 USA Today report. Ron Gonzalez, executive director for the New Orleans Mission, says that this is a major factor in the current crisis. “About 40 percent of the people that stay here on any given night have some type of employment,” Gonzalez explained. “That number may have increased because people now know that we’re a resource, but the fact is many of

Orlando Brooks relocated from Chicago to New Orleans to find work and a better life for himself. Brooks, who now lives at the New Orleans Mission, has a job at a local hotel and is own his way to being able to support himself. Photo by Shawn Chollette.

these people are working.” One of a handful of organizations working to help alleviate the homeless crisis, the New Orleans Mission offers emergency shelter, temporary housing and family housing. In addition to serving as a shelter, the Mission also has a chapel, substance abuse counseling, weekend medical clinic, GED preparation, an adult education program, job placement office and is working towards opening a wing dedicated to homeless people with mental health issues. Of those Mission residents that complete the adult education program, 72 percent are able to land jobs. A year later, 78 percent of that number will still be employed. “Whenever someone stops underneath the Claiborne/Canal underpass to give someone without a home money or food, that person’s heart is in the right place, but they’re only enabling the person they’re trying to help,” Gonzalez said. “If we truly want to help the homeless population, we need to understand the reasons they’re homeless. Some of them may have mental health problems,

or are battling drug addictions and they need help.” Gonzalez said that more facilities need to be built, and eventually affordable housing needs to be made available. Mike Miller, UNITY’s director of supportive housing placement, agrees with Gonzalez that housing the homeless first works. “It may seem counter-intuitive to house someone that exhibits some sort of anti-social behavior,

but if you take a crack addict and you get them housed, and then you deal with their addictions . . . that’s the most effective and benefiicial way to solve the problem, said Miller. “And because I’m not a politician, that’s not something that’s up to me, but rather the American tax payers. And they have to take in to consideration if that’s the most effective use of tax dollars and resources.”

Mercy Corps supports the emergence of a healthy deconstruction industry. Mercy Corps has seeded the start up of Mid City Neighborhood Organization’s Old City Building Center, an architectural salvage depot, worker training center, business incubator, and neighborhood meeting hub. To find out more or to make a donation, visit: www.mcno.org/ocbc or email: oldcitybuildingcenter@gmail.com.


26

March / April 2008

NPN’s The Trumpet

New Orleans Housing

Questions Nobody Answers What is “affordable” or low-income housing?

Amber Seely

Affordable housing is defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as housing provided at a cost that equals 30% of a household’s income when that household is earning 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below. These AMIs are reset every year and are based on average household earnings in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) defined by the US Census. The 2008 AMI in the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner MSA is $59,800. Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans Housing-Development Finance Coordinator

Affordable Housing Income Limits

Income Limit Category % of Area Median Income One- Person Household Two- Person Household Three- Person Household Four- Person Household Low Income 80% $33,500 $38,300 $43,050 $47,850 Very Low Income 50% $20,950 $23,900 $26,900 $29,900 Extremely Low Income 30% $12,550 $14,350 $16,150 $17,950

Source: www.huduser.org/datasets

How are “affordable” rents and home prices determined?

There is no single affordable housing rental rate because affordable rents are calculated to equal 30% of a tenant’s income. For home ownership, a family of four with household earnings totaling 80% of AMI ($47,850) could afford a mortgage of approximately $150,000.

What is Section-8?

HUD’s federal Section-8 program supplies vouchers that pay the difference between what low-income individuals can afford to pay in rent (30% of a household’s income earning 80% AMI or below) and what a landlord can charge in rent in a geographical area. This average going rental rate is determined by HUD and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) selects Section-8 voucher recipients.

HUD’s 2008 Fair Market Rents for New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner MSA

Efficiency (Studio)

One-Bedroom

Two-Bedroom

Three-Bedroom

Four-Bedroom

$764

$846

$990

$1,271

$1,314

Source: www.huduser.org/datasets

Who qualifies as a first-time home buyer?

There is no set definition for a first time homebuyer. However, households who have not owned a home for the past three years often qualify. Most homeowner assistance programs also require that prospective participants complete a homebuyer training course. Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) www. nhsnola.org/ is one organization that provides these and other training courses.


NPN’s The Trumpet

27

What is a soft second mortgage?

Soft second mortgages are grants usually between $10,000 - $50,000 that help pay the difference between the mortgage that a low income household can afford and the sale price of the home they wish to purchase. Most soft second mortgages do not have to be paid back if the purchasing household stays in the home for a certain length of time, usually 15 years. Most soft second programs are for households that earn 80% AMI and below and are first time homebuyers. The following organizations have soft second mortgage programs: • Finance Authority of New Orleans www.financeauthority.org • City of New Orleans Office of Recovery and Development Administration www.cityofno.com • Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) www.nhsnola.org

How do I know what size mortgage I can afford?

When lenders evaluate an application for a mortgage, in addition to accessing credit scores, a loan officer will review a household’s earnings and use certain ratios to determine how large a mortgage a household can afford. A “front-end” ratio is a household’s monthly housing expenses divided by its monthly gross income. For example, a household with an annual income of $60,000 has a monthly income of $5,000 (60,000/12). Typical monthly housing expenses include the mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments - collectively known as PITI. If the lender’s required front-end ratio is 30% then $1,550 ($5,000 x 30%) is available a month to pay a household’s housing costs or PITI and the household could afford a mortgage of approximately $160,000. A “back-end” or debt-to-income ratio indicates what portion of a household’s monthly income goes toward paying debts. Total monthly debt includes expenses such as mortgage payments (made up of PITI), credit-card payments, child support and other loan payments. For example, if a household’s monthly income is $5,000 ($60,000/12) and it has total monthly debt payments of $1,800, its back-end ratio is 36% ($1,800/$5,000). Generally, lenders like to see a back-end ratio that does not exceed 36%.

Who qualifies for “affordable” rental units/homes?

Any household that earns no more than 80% of AMI are eligible to apply for affordable housing units. How can I or someone I know access “affordable” rental units/homes? Most properties with affordable housing rental units have rental offices and property management companies such as Latter & Blum that act as realtors to help identify and qualify potential tenants. For home ownership, realtors, lenders as well as organizations that provide homebuyer training may know of affordable homes for sale.

How can I or someone I know access “affordable” rental units/homes?

Most properties with affordable housing rental units have rental offices and property management companies such as Latter & Blum that act as realtors to help identify and qualify potential tenants. For home ownership, realtors and lenders, as well as organizations that provide homebuyer training may know of affordable homes for sale.


28

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

LSU/VA :Complicated and Confusing Randall Dowling Uptown Writer

T

he ongoing debate about the proposed LSU/VA hospital, slated to begin construction this October and open by 2012, speaks to larger divides in New Orleans. The general consensus among residents of the area, that they were not given sufficient warning of the plans, suggests not only that plans like this need to be communicated better, but that the media which are used to communicate them must be reexamined. In a city as small as New Orleans, it is impossible to consider construction efforts as happening in vacuums without any impression on the area around them. And with attention on the city as it is now, people should be

able to get information that directly affects them through media of their choosing. Googling the phrase “LSU/ VA” reveals a number of different articles and texts regarding the proposed pair of hospitals. The pair, set for construction near Canal and I-10, will cover nearly 70 acres of national historic space. The plan even sounds acceptable until one discovers that areas that would be destroyed by the renovations include the 129-year-old site of the original McDonogh No. 11 School, the Deutsche Haus and numerous classical and traditional homes. Additionally, while a 2007 article on LSU’s website promises that the complex will create more than 10,000 jobs and, by 2012, bring $1.4 billion into the local economy, the lack of reporting on the damage

to the surrounding neighborhood remains to be fully explained. Furthermore, citizens’ responses that the original Charity Hospital need only be restored, and that the new building is unnecessary, have not been addressed. Attempting to navigate the morass of press releases and info bulletins on LSU’s website fails to clarify much on the issues. The press releases, available at http:// www.lsuhospitals.org/projects/ lsuva.html, document dates and plans for considering collaboration, but fail to illustrate the finalization of any progress. No official announcements have been made from LSU in the weeks since the February 24 Times-Picayune article “Land in Limbo,” which, for many outside of the area, was their first exposure to the controversial plan.

A resident in the Tulane/Canal area displays their frustrations with LSU/VA’s recent actions. Photo by Alethia Picciola

Regardless of beliefs or reactions to the plan, one thing that cannot be disputed is the importance of maintaining the absolute best possible channels of information regarding these developments. The frustration of the residents of the Canal area recalls the radical shift during the December housing announcements. Those in authority cannot expect the Internet to be a reliable means for communicating with city residents. And the complementary sentiment, that city residents can and should do more to involve themselves with city government, seems redundant to the point of offense. A city with the history and energy of New Orleans does not need to be reminded of the importance of getting involved, certainly not now.


NPN’s The Trumpet

29

KIDS RETHINK N E W

O R L E A N S

A series of monthly segments with Kids Rethinking New Orleans’ Schools, or Rethink.

Barack Obama: Where Does He Stand on Education? An Interview with Obama Campaign Worker Kelley Caudle On February 15, the day after the Virginia Presidential Primaries, we tracked down Ms. Kelley Caudle, an Obama campaign worker with a special interest in education. She was pretty tired, but agreed to talk with us for this Trumpet column.

Rethink: Why did you get involved in the Obama campaign? Ms. Caudle: Well, that’s an

interesting story. Before Obama, I voted Republican. The first Republican I voted for was Reagan. I am 46 years old now and I never worked in a presidential campaign before Obama came along.

Rethink: Can you say more? Ms. Caudle: I was impressed by Obama’s positions on poverty and education. I believe that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. I am from a low-income rural family, so this is very important to me personally. I went through school on scholarships, and I know that opportunities for the less advantaged are few and far between. My brother was not scholarship material – he was a “slow learner.” My family got no help in making sure he had a good education and vocational training. So you can see that the education thing means a lot to me. I also believe that Obama can unite the US. He wants to reach across boundaries to independent voters and people who are moderate Republicans, like me. He wants a broad public mandate to get the work done. Rethink: So when did you get interested in Obama? Ms. Caudle: I saw him at an event

in Washington, DC just after he was elected. There were about 3,000 young people there and his speech was only

five minutes long. He talked about how he had fought for better pay for teachers, and to make college within the reach of anyone who wanted it. Obama really wants to strengthen community colleges. The first bill he wrote and introduced as a Senator increased the Pell Grants (for low income college students) from $4,000 to $5,000 to a year. I had never heard of Obama before that.

and college students so they can give to the community in exchange for education Rethink: Did Obama go to public opportunities. His idea is “we’ll invest in school? you, if you’ll invest in your community.” Obama is really serious about funding Ms. Caudle: Yes and no. When state colleges and making them affordable his family lived in Indonesia, he went to for all students. public school and then Catholic school. In Hawaii he went to private school on a Rethink: What is Obama’s opinion scholarship. on high stakes testing? (See photograph of Obama as a ninthgrader at the Punahou School in Hawaii.)

Rethink: Do Obama’s kids go to

public school?

Ms. Caudle: No. They go to a

private school, the University of Chicago Lab School, where Obama used to teach. It’s five minutes from Obama’s house. For security reasons, they probably won’t go to public school in Washington, either.

This is a photo of Barack Obama and his classmates in junior high school. Can you spot him? Photo courtesy of The Oahuan.

Rethink: What does Obama want to do for education when he’s the President? Ms. Caudle: Well, quite a lot of

things that would take too much time to mention here. Tell your readers to visit: www.barackobama.com/issues. Look under education and also youth. I will talk about a few of his plans, but remember I am a not an official spokeswoman! First, he wants to recruit many more teachers, pay them better money and make them more accountable for the education they deliver. He also wants to start a public service program for middle, high school

Ms. Caudle: I don’t know. To the best of my knowledge, the only person who has said something about that is McCain – he is opposed to nationally imposed standards. But Obama’s website says that he believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to “fill in bubbles on standardized tests.” I don’t like that either – I’ve seen it done with my son. Obama wants to support schools that need improvement, not punish them. He also has a plan to work on the high school dropout situation.

Rethink: Thanks so much! Where are you going now that the Virginia Primaries are over? Ms. Caudle: Back to my home and business in Huntsville, Alabama. I came up for the few days to help out because I was here on business. I will help out for the weekend in Mississippi if I can and continue to make calls ‘til the campaign finishes. Of course I tell everyone I can about his policies. This is really an exciting “grass-roots” effort. Next month, the Rethinkers will interview Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas about his tour with Obama around the New Orleans public schools.


30

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Ask City Hall Question:

I recently moved into a new neighborhood, which I did not live in prior to Katrina. I’ve heard the neighborhood has an association, but I haven’t heard about any meetings. I’m really interested in working at the neighborhood level - what do I need to do to get involved?

District A

Shelley Midura City Hall, Room 2W80 1300 Perdido Street New Orleans, LA 70112 Phone: (504) 658-1010 Fax: (504) 658-1016 Email:smidura@cityofno.com

District B

Stacy Head City Hall, Room 2W10 First, I would check with the City Planning Commission for a list of city1300 Perdido Street recognized neighborhood associations. That list will tell you if your new neighborhood has or ever Phone: (504) 658 -1020 had an association. It will also give you the last given contact information for association officers Fax: (504) 658-1025 so you may contact them and ask about joining. If it turns out there was a neighborhood association Email:shead@cityofno.com

Answer:

and it’s inactive, or even if the neighborhood never had a neighborhood association, you can jumpstart one. This is a very involved process and while we can’t explain everything that needs to happen, a good place to start is holding a well-promoted meeting in the neighborhood. Hang up flyers and talk to neighbors, and try and get as high a turnout as possible, and maybe you can touch base with residents who worked previously with the neighborhood association. At any rate, a well-attended, initial meeting will help get a sense of the community’s needs and the primary issues that must be addressed as the neighborhood builds its association.

Question:My neighborhood association wants to open a bank account, but when we

went to the bank we were told that we would have to have a tax ID number. What is a federal tax ID number, who do we speak with at City Hall to get one and do we really need it?

Answer: You won’t be contacting anyone at City Hall just yet, as this is a federal issue

given that tax ID numbers are issued by the Internal Revenue Service. However, first things first. A tax ID number, also commonly called an Employer Identification number, is used to identify a business entity (which your neighborhood association would be considered) and allows the bank to report the earnings of the association’s account to the IRS for tax filing purposes. I’d suggest applying for a tax ID number because at some point your neighborhood association may decide to become a non-profit organization, and already having a tax ID number will make the process smoother. To obtain the number, fill out IRS form SS-4 (available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irspdf/fss4.pdf), or apply for a number over the telephone (1-800-829-4933).

District C

James Carter City Hall, Room 2W70 1300 Perdido Street Phone: (504) 658-1030 Fax: (504) 658-1037 Email: jcarter@cityofno.com

District D

Cynthia Hedge-Morrell City Hall, Room 2W20 1300 Perdido Street Phone: (504) 658-1040 Fax: (504) 658-1048 E-mail: chmorrell@cityofno.com

District E

Cynthia Willard-Lewis City Hall, Room 2W60 1300 Perdido Street Phone: (504) 658-1050 Fax: (504) 658-1058 E-mail: cwlewis@cityofno.com

Council Member-At-Large

Have a Question for City Hall or need a particular concern addressed? E-mail it to shawn@npnnola.com and the Trumpet will do its best to get an answer.

Arnie Fielkow City Hall, Room 2W40 1300 Perdido Street Phone: (504) 658-1060 Fax: (504) 658-1068 Email: afielkow@cityofno.com

Council Member-At-Large Jacquelyn Clarkson City Hall, Room 2W50 1300 Perdido Street New Orleans, LA 70112 Phone: (504) 658-1070 Fax: (504) 658-1077 E-mail: jbclarkson@cityofno.com


NPN’s The Trumpet

Community Events Neighborhood Meetings

St. Charles Avenue http://www.cuna-nola.org/ .

Broadmoor Improvement Association May 19, 7 p.m. St. Matthias Church, 4230 South Broad Street http://www.broadmoorimprovement.com/

Desaix Neighborhood Association April 12, 10a.m. St. Leo the Great 2916 Paris Ave District 6 Community Council Every other Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. University of New Orleans, Old Business Administrator Building, Room 211

Bywater Neighborhood Association April 8, 7:00 p.m. Faubourg St. John May 13 7:00pm Holy Angels Concert Hall, 3500 St. April 14, 7p.m. Fair Grinds Coffee House Claude Ave. 3313 Ponce de Leon St. Bunny Friends Faubourg Marengo Neighborhood April 12, noon Association May 10, noon Greater Mt. Carmel 3721 N. Clai- Neighborhood Watch meeting (2 of 4) borne Ave Thursday April 17th at 6:30 p.m. Austerlitz Baptist Church Carrollton United 819 Austerlitz St Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church Freret Neighbors United 8616 Hickory Street April 8, 6 p.m. (504)-957-0585 Green Charter Middle School, Central City Renaissance Alliance 2319 Valence Street dgancarz@juno.com Saturday, May 17, 2008 Ashe Cultural Arts Center Pontilly Neighborhood Association 1712 O.C. Haley Blvd. Meeting Second Saturdays 11 a.m. Central City Partnership April 12 Friday, April 25th 1:00pm 2020 Jackson Avenue, second floor St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church Claiborne University Neighborhood Association April 24, 7 p.m. Jewish Community Center, 5342

Filmore Gardens Fourth Thursday April 24 at 6:30 Rouses Lakefront

Gentilly Fest Planning meetings: Every other Tuesday April 8 and April 22 at 6:30 Pontilly Disaster Collaborative Office 3869 Gentilly Blvd Gentilly Heights East Neighborhood Association Third Monday April 21 Dillard University ghena2b@yahoo.com

31

Milan Neighborhood Association April 24, 7 p.m. Junior League HQ, 4319 Carondelet Holy Cross Every Thursday, 5:30pm. Center for Sustainability, Greater Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 5130 Chartres, Lizardi and Chartres

Gentilly Heighs/Vascoville Second Monday April 14, 6:00 PM St. Leo the Great

Lake Bullard Homeowners Association Saturdays, 3 p.m. Cornerstone United Methodist Church 5276 Bullard Ave.

Gentilly Terrace and Gardens April 9 , 7 p.m. Gentilly Terrace School (504) 280-7120 or president@gentillyterrace.org

St. Roch April 10, 6 p.m. May 8, 6pm True Vine Baptist Church, 2008 Marigny Street

Hollygrove Saturdays, 12 p.m. St. Peter AME Church 3424 Eagle Street Lake Bullard Homeowners Association Saturdays, 3 p.m. Cornerstone United Methodist Church 5276 Bullard Ave. Mid City Neighborhood Organization April 7, 6:30 p.m. Grace Episcopal Church 3700 Canal St.

Historic Faubourg Treme Neighborhood April 10, 6p.m. Inseparable Friends Hall & Flower Shop (Charbonnet Funeral Home) 1607 St. Philip St. Tulane/Canal Neighborhood Development Corporation April 8, 6 p.m. St. Joseph Church 802 Tulane Ave. New Orleans Village d’Lest Neighborhood Association First Monday May 5 at 7:00 Einstein School


32

NPN’s The Trumpet

March / April 2008

Have a say in what is written about New Orleans

Get Published in The Trumpet

thetrumpet@npnnola.com 504-940-2207


The Housing Issue - March/April