Saturday, December 22, 2007

Homeless Tent City Dismantled Outside New Orleans City Hall and Landlords Are Needed has the follow-up on the housing crisis in New Orleans: a tent city near City Hall is dismantled, as non-profits are used to find homes and channel short-term assistant to the homeless, including aid to the physically and mentally disabled. One non-profit leader told NOLA:
This was really a leap of faith .... It was a leap of faith by the nonprofit community that various pots of government resources that have been promised will be there when we need them.
Given the fiasco of emergency management and government aid under the Bush Administration, I would say that it is a leap over a bottomless pit of hopelessness without the hint of a safety net.

In the meantime, NOLA reports that the call has gone out for landlords who charge lower rents to provide homes for the homeless when non-profit money for low-cost hotel space runs out. Good luck with that. Landlords don't get to be landlords because of their philanthropy.

In related news, Sue Sturgis has a response to the New Orleans crisis from Naomi Klein, who has exposed the "Shock Doctrine" of "Disaster Capitalism." Klein underscores the triple shot of shock to New Orleans lower classes over at the Huffington Post:
  1. Katrina damage and evacuation
  2. Attack on New Orleans' public services and housing
  3. Police violence against the bodies of protesters at City Hall
Remember that Klein addresses the way that modern capitalism, as influenced by Milton Friedman, emphasizes using disasters to shock people into compliance with and submission to privatization and market powers. Here's an excerpt from Klein's book regarding New Orleans:
It happened in New Orleans. After the flood, an already divided city turned into a battleground between gated green zones and raging red zones--the result not of water damage but of the "free-market solutions" embraced by the president. The Bush administration refused to allow emergency funds to pay public sector salaries, and the City of New Orleans, which lost its tax base, had to fire three thousand workers in the months after Katrina. Among them were sixteen of the city's planning staff--with shades of "de Baathification," laid off at the precise moment when New Orleans was in desperate need of planners. Instead, millions of public dollars went to outside consultants, many of whom were powerful real estate developers. And of course thousands of teachers were also fired, paving the way for the conversion of dozens of public schools into charter schools, just as Friedman had called for. has extensive coverage of the New Orleans unrest, including higher quality video from both inside and outside City Hall during the protest. One religious minister who was inside the City Council Chambers points to empty seats in the gallery that he claimed should be available to protesters who were locked out. Their coverage is much more comprehensive than the sound bites that are coming from most other sources.

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