[Hpn] Homeless Homeowners Sleeping Under Bridge

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Mon, 31 Dec 2007 15:08:59 -0500


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Homeless Homeowners Sleeping Under Bridge=20
by scorpiorising=20
http://www.dailykos.com:80/storyonly/2007/12/31/104920/76
Mon Dec 31, 2007=20
I wrote this after a recent visit to an homeless encampment in New =
Orleans. I'm a native Louisianian, struggling to grasp the issues here =
and present them to the rest of the world.

The rate of homelessness has tripled in New Orleans since Katrina, and =
the actual numbers are probably far higher than the 15,000 reported. =
Homeless homeowners are living under the overpass at Canal and Claiborne =
in New Orleans, along with a host of New Orleans natives, and people =
from out of town looking for work. Another encampment has sprung up at =
Claiborne and Tulane Ave., in the shadow of the not shuttered Charity =
Hospital.

BTW, a homeless, tent encampment has sprung up recently in Los Angeles, =
spoken about in this Daily Kos diary. I used the link in that diary to a =
Guardian article, but now the link doesn't work. I think we are on the =
verge of an explosion in homelessness, both here in New Orleans and =
across the country.

  a.. scorpiorising's diary :: ::=20
  b..=20
This issues are very intense in New Orleans right now, as everyone =
witnessed activists being tasered and pepper sprayed inside and outside =
of a City Council meeting, in which there was a unanimous vote to =
demolish most of public housing in New Orleans. I was an eyewitness to =
the event, and took a face full of pepper spray, and I wrote my personal =
account here.

Here is my recent article below, and I would appreciate feedback.

  I met two people, a man and a woman, New Orleans natives, each of whom =
owned homes when the waters filled New Orleans East and the lower ninth =
ward.

  Alex Clay, age 53, sitting in a comfortable chair next to his matress =
on the concrete, told me he was living in his mother's home in the lower =
ninth ward when Katrina unleashed her water fury. His mother had died =
just one month prior to Katrina, and he was the only relative living in =
the home.

  He survived the flood by sitting atop a neighbor's roof with four =
other adults, and one dog. He was rescued by boat, dropped off at the =
St. Claude bridge, walked to Canal St., and there his story trailed off. =
He can't remember where he was brought, what city or small town he lived =
in for over a year after Katrina.

  He knows though that when he came back, he went to see his mother's =
home in the lower ninth. The house was gone, demolished, "nothing but =
grass now where it stood".

  He's been homeless since he returned to New Orleans about eight months =
ago. He's been living under the overpass at the intersection of Canal =
and Claiborne.

  No, he has not applied for Road Home help. Neither has Linda Adams =
(not her real name), a homeowner from New Orleans East when Katrina came =
crashing ashore. She has no insurance, she said, and about the Road =
Home, she said she "didn't hear much about it."

  Linda asked for sanitary napkins. On my way to Walgreen's to purchase =
some for her, I reflected on the trauma that many are still feeling, and =
have suffered since Katrina. Trauma so deep and dramatic that it takes =
you outside of the normal parameters of life, so that you don't hear =
about programs that might assist you in recovery.

  And while Louisiana Recovery Authority officials pat themselves on the =
backs for jobs well done, they have shut the Road Home program down, =
before those like Linda and Alex could muster their inner and outer =
resources sufficiently to be able to apply. Then again, if you don't =
have a current address, could you have applied for the Road Home?

  I can see Linda and Alex shuffling through the morass of paperwork for =
the Road Home, explaining to worker after worker, "I don't have a =
current address, I am homeless."

  This particular encampment at Canal and Claiborne is "peaceful", as =
one resident described it. Mostly older, middle-aged folks, and a few =
young people "that don't give any trouble". A mentally-ill resident of =
Iberville Housing Development, just steps away, is a regular visitor, =
and she was there today, threatening that her attorney would "shut the =
place down" and everybody "better get their shit packed and moved by =
Monday".

  I recognize her as someone I gave money to at the corner of Canal and =
Claiborne a few weeks after Katrina. No one in the encampment seemed =
bothered by her. Indeed, one man put his hand gently on her shoulder and =
mouthed comforting words "It's alright sister, it's alright.".

  Just blocks away is the now shuttered Lafitte Housing Development. 850 =
units shuttered and scheduled for demolition, while we have New Orleans =
natives, made homeless by Katrina, sleeping under a nearby overpass.

  The sheer immensity of this situation, this human rights violation, =
can be viewed as a violation to us all, here in New Orleans. It makes =
one want to scream from rooftops, won't someone hear our cry here in New =
Orleans? Won't someone recognize the need for immediate action before we =
lose over 4000 units of affordable, public housing, units that the Alex =
Clays and the Linda Adams could potentially live in, at least =
temporarily, in units residents don't return to?

  Reopening public housing would also free up much needed rental units, =
and potentially drive down rents in the city.

  Our own people are not hearing our cry. Local and state leaders have =
bought into the dictum of the "private market" rebuilding New Orleans. =
Let's translate this: a few developers will make a lot of money in post =
Katrina New Orleans, whether from gobbling up homes and land abandoned =
because the homeowners couldn't pay mortgages, or were just too =
traumatized to connect with the Road Home Program, like Alex and Linda, =
or whether from the redevelopment of public housing, and reducing the =
numbers of units for low income renters dramatically, and benefiting =
from federal tax credits in the process...this is how money will be made =
in Post-Katrina New Orleans.

  Local political leaders are hedging their bets with the whims of =
homeowners who have been able to rebuild, and are voting policies that =
benefit a few at the expense of the many.

  Raymond, a New Orleans native, returned to New Orleans over one and =
one-half years ago. He has been homeless since returning, living under =
the Claiborne/Canal overpass. He works constuction, but finding decent =
work has proved daunting. He might eat one meal a day, he says. "Some of =
the people here don't even eat that", he said.

  Neither Alex, Linda or Raymond have been approached by Unity for the =
Homeless. "I've heard of them," Alex said. Remember, Alex has been at =
this location for eight months; he's heard of Unity, but has never been =
approached by one of their workers.

  Let's face it, there is not a rush to assist the homeless in New =
Orleans. That $1.5 million recently doled out to Unity for the Homeless =
is chump change compared to the issue at hand: pulling people off of the =
street, getting them into decent housing, and staying with them for the =
long term to keep them off of the street.

  David Williams, not his real name, and a resident of this encampment, =
just had surgery. He pulled his shirt up to reveal a long row of =
stitches that are holding the scar together. He had a hole in his =
kidney; said he nearly died out here, under the overpass. He pointed to =
a tent. "The fellow that lives there, he kept me alive", he said, "until =
the ambulance came".

  He said he has medications, and he's feeling fine. University Hospital =
is treating him. What he doesn't have is clean gauze and peroxide. David =
is a convicted felon, and a veteran. He has been homeless since the =
storm.

  He gestured angrily at the empty buildings nearby. "What about this =
big empty building?" he said. David wants to work, and is hoping for a =
job with his nephew. He doesn't want help from the government, and said =
he has too much pride to stay with family.

  There are a host of people in the encampment from elsewhere, who came =
here looking for work after Katrina. There is a cabinet maker from New =
Hampshire, a construction worker from Monroe, Louisiana, a groundskeeper =
from California, and two young people in their twenties from New York.

  Cheryl and Wes, not their real names, decided to pull up stakes from =
New York, and come down here for work. On their way here, their car =
burnt to the ground, along with all of their clothes and money. The Red =
Cross paid for their bus fare here, and they've been homeless since =
November 1st.

  They were sleeping by the wharves on the river, but they began to hear =
about rapes occurring at the wharves, and so decided to join the =
encampment at Canal and Claiborne. They work cleaning the Superdome, =
which is just blocks away, as do several people that I spoke to in the =
encampment.

  When I visited the homeless who were encamped at Duncan Plaza, several =
of those folks also said they worked at the Superdome, cleaning up after =
special events.

  The irony of this situation fairly screams for attention. In the =
shadow of the Superdome, where people died waiting for help after =
Katrina, now sleep the homeless. They work in the Superdome, but there =
is no housing for them in New Orleans that is affordable.

  The Superdome, by the way, was repaired and refurbished and back on =
line just one year after Katrina. I remember Governor Blanco mouthing =
platitudes, something to the effect, "This shows the will and =
determination of the people of Louisiana to rebuild".

  No governor, this shows something else. Terribly misplaced priorities, =
and a cold willingness to look the other way when it comes to the =
suffering of Louisianians, as they continue to struggle to recover.=20


William Charles Tinker=20
New Hampshire Homeless=20
Founded 11-28-99
25 Granite Street=20
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640 USA=20
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.=20
1-603-286-2492=20
http://www.missingkids.com=20
http://www.nationalhomeless.org=20
http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org=20
http://www.newhampshirehomeless-subscribe@topica.com 
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<DIV class=3Dentry>
<H2><SPAN class=3DdiaryTitle>Homeless Homeowners Sleeping Under =
Bridge</SPAN>=20
</H2>
<H3 class=3Dbyline>by <A=20
href=3D"http://scorpiorising.dailykos.com/">scorpiorising</A> </H3>
<DIV class=3Dbyline><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://www.dailykos.com:80/storyonly/2007/12/31/104920/76">http:/=
/www.dailykos.com:80/storyonly/2007/12/31/104920/76</A></FONT></DIV>
<H4 class=3Ddate>Mon Dec 31, 2007&nbsp;</H4>
<DIV class=3Dintro>
<P><A href=3D"http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2007/12/11794.php">I =
wrote=20
this</A> after a recent visit to an homeless encampment in New Orleans. =
I'm a=20
native Louisianian, struggling to grasp the issues here and present them =
to the=20
rest of the world.</P>
<P>The rate of homelessness has tripled in New Orleans since Katrina, =
and the=20
actual numbers are probably far higher than the 15,000 reported. =
Homeless=20
homeowners are living under the overpass at Canal and Claiborne in New =
Orleans,=20
along with a host of New Orleans natives, and people from out of town =
looking=20
for work. Another encampment has sprung up at Claiborne and Tulane Ave., =
in the=20
shadow of the not shuttered Charity Hospital.</P>
<P>BTW, a homeless, tent encampment has sprung up recently in Los =
Angeles,=20
spoken about <A=20
href=3D"http://www.dailykos.com/hotlist/add/2007/12/21/142842/09/displays=
tory//">in=20
this Daily Kos diary</A>. I used the link in that diary to a Guardian =
article,=20
but now the link doesn't work. I think we are on the verge of an =
explosion in=20
homelessness, both here in New Orleans and across the =
country.</P></DIV><!-- polls come after this -->
<UL class=3Dcatcom>
  <LI><A href=3D"http://scorpiorising.dailykos.com/">scorpiorising's =
diary</A> ::=20
  ::=20
  <LI></LI></UL></DIV>
<DIV id=3Dextended>
<P>This issues are very intense in New Orleans right now, as <A=20
href=3D"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DcMBWAXfGsc4">everyone witnessed =

activists</A> being tasered and pepper sprayed inside and outside of a =
City=20
Council meeting, in which there was a unanimous vote to demolish most of =
public=20
housing in New Orleans. I was an eyewitness to the event, and took a =
face full=20
of pepper spray, and I wrote my personal account <A=20
href=3D"http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/12/23/133411/99/276/425849">he=
re</A>.</P>
<P>Here is my recent article below, and I would appreciate feedback.</P>
<BLOCKQUOTE>
  <P>I met two people, a man and a woman, New Orleans natives, each of =
whom=20
  owned homes when the waters filled New Orleans East and the lower =
ninth=20
  ward.</P>
  <P>Alex Clay, age 53, sitting in a comfortable chair next to his =
matress on=20
  the concrete, told me he was living in his mother's home in the lower =
ninth=20
  ward when Katrina unleashed her water fury. His mother had died just =
one month=20
  prior to Katrina, and he was the only relative living in the home.</P>
  <P>He survived the flood by sitting atop a neighbor's roof with four =
other=20
  adults, and one dog. He was rescued by boat, dropped off at the St. =
Claude=20
  bridge, walked to Canal St., and there his story trailed off. He can't =

  remember where he was brought, what city or small town he lived in for =
over a=20
  year after Katrina.</P>
  <P>He knows though that when he came back, he went to see his mother's =
home in=20
  the lower ninth. The house was gone, demolished, "nothing but grass =
now where=20
  it stood".</P>
  <P>He's been homeless since he returned to New Orleans about eight =
months ago.=20
  He's been living under the overpass at the intersection of Canal and=20
  Claiborne.</P>
  <P>No, he has not applied for Road Home help. Neither has Linda Adams =
(not her=20
  real name), a homeowner from New Orleans East when Katrina came =
crashing=20
  ashore. She has no insurance, she said, and about the Road Home, she =
said she=20
  "didn't hear much about it."</P>
  <P>Linda asked for sanitary napkins. On my way to Walgreen's to =
purchase some=20
  for her, I reflected on the trauma that many are still feeling, and =
have=20
  suffered since Katrina. Trauma so deep and dramatic that it takes you =
outside=20
  of the normal parameters of life, so that you don't hear about =
programs that=20
  might assist you in recovery.</P>
  <P>And while Louisiana Recovery Authority officials pat themselves on =
the=20
  backs for jobs well done, they have shut the Road Home program down, =
before=20
  those like Linda and Alex could muster their inner and outer resources =

  sufficiently to be able to apply. Then again, if you don't have a =
current=20
  address, could you have applied for the Road Home?</P>
  <P>I can see Linda and Alex shuffling through the morass of paperwork =
for the=20
  Road Home, explaining to worker after worker, "I don't have a current =
address,=20
  I am homeless."</P>
  <P>This particular encampment at Canal and Claiborne is "peaceful", as =
one=20
  resident described it. Mostly older, middle-aged folks, and a few =
young people=20
  "that don't give any trouble". A mentally-ill resident of Iberville =
Housing=20
  Development, just steps away, is a regular visitor, and she was there =
today,=20
  threatening that her attorney would "shut the place down" and =
everybody=20
  "better get their shit packed and moved by Monday".</P>
  <P>I recognize her as someone I gave money to at the corner of Canal =
and=20
  Claiborne a few weeks after Katrina. No one in the encampment seemed =
bothered=20
  by her. Indeed, one man put his hand gently on her shoulder and =
mouthed=20
  comforting words "It's alright sister, it's alright.".</P>
  <P>Just blocks away is the now shuttered Lafitte Housing Development. =
850=20
  units shuttered and scheduled for demolition, while we have New =
Orleans=20
  natives, made homeless by Katrina, sleeping under a nearby =
overpass.</P>
  <P>The sheer immensity of this situation, this human rights violation, =
can be=20
  viewed as a violation to us all, here in New Orleans. It makes one =
want to=20
  scream from rooftops, won't someone hear our cry here in New Orleans? =
Won't=20
  someone recognize the need for immediate action before we lose over =
4000 units=20
  of affordable, public housing, units that the Alex Clays and the Linda =
Adams=20
  could potentially live in, at least temporarily, in units residents =
don't=20
  return to?</P>
  <P>Reopening public housing would also free up much needed rental =
units, and=20
  potentially drive down rents in the city.</P>
  <P>Our own people are not hearing our cry. Local and state leaders =
have bought=20
  into the dictum of the "private market" rebuilding New Orleans. Let's=20
  translate this: a few developers will make a lot of money in post =
Katrina New=20
  Orleans, whether from gobbling up homes and land abandoned because the =

  homeowners couldn't pay mortgages, or were just too traumatized to =
connect=20
  with the Road Home Program, like Alex and Linda, or whether from the=20
  redevelopment of public housing, and reducing the numbers of units for =
low=20
  income renters dramatically, and benefiting from federal tax credits =
in the=20
  process...this is how money will be made in Post-Katrina New =
Orleans.</P>
  <P>Local political leaders are hedging their bets with the whims of =
homeowners=20
  who have been able to rebuild, and are voting policies that benefit a =
few at=20
  the expense of the many.</P>
  <P>Raymond, a New Orleans native, returned to New Orleans over one and =

  one-half years ago. He has been homeless since returning, living under =
the=20
  Claiborne/Canal overpass. He works constuction, but finding decent =
work has=20
  proved daunting. He might eat one meal a day, he says. "Some of the =
people=20
  here don't even eat that", he said.</P>
  <P>Neither Alex, Linda or Raymond have been approached by Unity for =
the=20
  Homeless. "I've heard of them," Alex said. Remember, Alex has been at =
this=20
  location for eight months; he's heard of Unity, but has never been =
approached=20
  by one of their workers.</P>
  <P>Let's face it, there is not a rush to assist the homeless in New =
Orleans.=20
  That $1.5 million recently doled out to Unity for the Homeless is =
chump change=20
  compared to the issue at hand: pulling people off of the street, =
getting them=20
  into decent housing, and staying with them for the long term to keep =
them off=20
  of the street.</P>
  <P>David Williams, not his real name, and a resident of this =
encampment, just=20
  had surgery. He pulled his shirt up to reveal a long row of stitches =
that are=20
  holding the scar together. He had a hole in his kidney; said he nearly =
died=20
  out here, under the overpass. He pointed to a tent. "The fellow that =
lives=20
  there, he kept me alive", he said, "until the ambulance came".</P>
  <P>He said he has medications, and he's feeling fine. University =
Hospital is=20
  treating him. What he doesn't have is clean gauze and peroxide. David =
is a=20
  convicted felon, and a veteran. He has been homeless since the =
storm.</P>
  <P>He gestured angrily at the empty buildings nearby. "What about this =
big=20
  empty building?" he said. David wants to work, and is hoping for a job =
with=20
  his nephew. He doesn't want help from the government, and said he has =
too much=20
  pride to stay with family.</P>
  <P>There are a host of people in the encampment from elsewhere, who =
came here=20
  looking for work after Katrina. There is a cabinet maker from New =
Hampshire, a=20
  construction worker from Monroe, Louisiana, a groundskeeper from =
California,=20
  and two young people in their twenties from New York.</P>
  <P>Cheryl and Wes, not their real names, decided to pull up stakes =
from New=20
  York, and come down here for work. On their way here, their car burnt =
to the=20
  ground, along with all of their clothes and money. The Red Cross paid =
for=20
  their bus fare here, and they've been homeless since November 1st.</P>
  <P>They were sleeping by the wharves on the river, but they began to =
hear=20
  about rapes occurring at the wharves, and so decided to join the =
encampment at=20
  Canal and Claiborne. They work cleaning the Superdome, which is just =
blocks=20
  away, as do several people that I spoke to in the encampment.</P>
  <P>When I visited the homeless who were encamped at Duncan Plaza, =
several of=20
  those folks also said they worked at the Superdome, cleaning up after =
special=20
  events.</P>
  <P>The irony of this situation fairly screams for attention. In the =
shadow of=20
  the Superdome, where people died waiting for help after Katrina, now =
sleep the=20
  homeless. They work in the Superdome, but there is no housing for them =
in New=20
  Orleans that is affordable.</P>
  <P>The Superdome, by the way, was repaired and refurbished and back on =
line=20
  just one year after Katrina. I remember Governor Blanco mouthing =
platitudes,=20
  something to the effect, "This shows the will and determination of the =
people=20
  of Louisiana to rebuild".</P>
  <P>No governor, this shows something else. Terribly misplaced =
priorities, and=20
  a cold willingness to look the other way when it comes to the =
suffering of=20
  Louisianians, as they continue to struggle to recover.=20
</P></BLOCKQUOTE></DIV></DIV></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><BR>William Charles Tinker <BR>New =
Hampshire=20
Homeless <BR>Founded 11-28-99<BR>25 Granite Street <BR>Northfield,N.H.=20
03276-1640 USA <BR>Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human =
rights.=20
<BR>1-603-286-2492 <BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.missingkids.com">http://www.missingkids.com</A> =
<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.nationalhomeless.org">http://www.nationalhomeless.org<=
/A>=20
<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org">http://www.newhampshirehomel=
ess.org</A>=20
<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.newhampshirehomeless-subscribe@topica.com">http://www.=
newhampshirehomeless-subscribe@topica.com</A>=20
</FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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