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Carl Webb's blog about housing

By Carl Webb | Renter in Austin, TX
  • "Katrina Cottages" find post-Katrina uses as affordable housing, educational facilities, offices, & more

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New Orleans, In My Neighborhood in New Orleans  |  July 13, 2011 10:31 AM  |  3,285 views  |  3 comments

    Kaid Benfield’s Blog

    "Katrina Cottages" find post-Katrina uses as affordable housing, educational facilities, offices, & more

      Katrina Cottage (via Mississippi Renewal Forum)  Katrina Cottage on wheels (via Affordable Housing Institute)

    One of the more creative ideas to emerge in those hectic (and, for some, tragic) days following Hurricane Katrina was the invention of “Katrina Cottages” (photos above), sturdier and to my eyes much more attractive alternatives to the FEMA trailers typically used to house displaced residents.  They are prefabricated and modular, and they can be constructed on site or placed on wheels and transported like conventional mobile homes.  They are also designed so that they can be anchored in place to become fixed, permanent housing.  There are now many variations, but these attributes are common to all.

    I am proud to say that several of my friends were involved in the cottages’ design, under the auspices of a massive volunteer effort organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism called the Mississippi Renewal Forum.  I was greatly impressed by the entire effort.  I was also impressed by the cottages, in part because, where I come from, mobile homes are affordable housing for a lot of people.  If thoughtful design can improve the genre, that is much to the good in my opinion.  And, in fact, the concept is now being employed in an increasing number of applications beyond the original post-disaster concept.  (You can read the history of the Katrina Cottages here.)

      Cedar Street Cottages, Buena Vista, CO (by: Cedar Street Cottages)

    As I result, I was intrigued and pleased to read recently that a developer is planning to recycle twelve of the cottages that are no longer needed as temporary housing, using them as permanent housing on an infill site in the town of Buena Vista, Colorado.  Dustin Urban writes on the developer’s blog:

    “This unique infill project will feature 12 beautifully designed and built one and two-bedroom “Katrina Cottages” originally used as emergency housing after hurricane Katrina. With the majority offered for long-term lease, the cottages will offer downtown living within walking distance of schools, restaurants and shops. Located a block from East Main Street, the cottages will support a more prosperous Main Street business environment and will create a beautiful streetscape complete with sidewalks and street trees.”

    This is terrific.  The developer’s principal project in Buena Vista, South Main, isinteresting in itself, with green and fitness-oriented features.  One thing its housing does not appear to be, though - at least so far - is small.  Another part of the developer’s web site trumpets a large, custom-built Spanish Colonial house on “a large lot” with “South Main’s most sizeable private outdoor space to date,” apparently intended to be used as a part-time residence.

    the first cottage at Seaside Academic Village (by: Seaside Institute)Meanwhile, in the iconic new urbanist resort town of Seaside, Florida, Katrina Cottages are being employed for a small educational facility.  (Photo left of the first cottage; go here for a 20-second video of it being transported into town and herefor a six-second video of the first cottage being wheeled into place.)

    Finally, Ocean Springs, Mississippi is home to a mature, mixed-use enclave of some 23 Katrina Cottages on a two-acre site called Cottage Square.  The project (below) was developed by architect Bruce Tolar and Enterprise Community Partners, the national affordable-housing organization.  Enterprise, which NRDC helped to establish an award-winning green housing program a few years ago, owns the project.  It was built as a demonstration of the potential of the cottages, especially when employed together as a neighborhood.

      Cottage Square (via Seaside Academic Village)

    Tolar has an office in the project, which also hosts a hair salon and real estate office in addition to homes.  Lynn Lofton wrote in The Mississippi Business Journal:

    “The group of cheerful-looking cottages with their white picket fences and welcoming front porches are making a statement about alternative living in Ocean Springs. Cottage Square is being developed on a two-acre plot on Government Street near downtown of this walkable town. Planners hope it will serve as a model for the concept of mixed-use zoning and affordable housing. The cottages, built in a coastal style and painted pastel colors, are built to hurricane codes . . .

    Cottage Square site (via Google Earth)"’We work with local governments and developers to help provide housing,’ said Michelle Whetten, Gulf Coast director for Enterprise. ‘We were invited to participate by the Katrina Cottage Group because we share a lot of the same goals, and we wanted to demonstrate how these cottages can be used. We also share their emphasis for green, energy-efficient housing’ . . .

    “She and Tolar believe the cottages are best when they're in a planned group such as this one. ‘They work best in a group with a mix of styles, uses and income levels,’ she said.”

    I have written before about the potential for cottage-sized housing, and think the Katrina model has advanced the possibilities.  I hope it continues to catch on.

    Here’s a very informative video tour of Cottage Square, discussing the cottages' history and showing how the neighborhood can support a sustainable lifestyle:


    Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

    Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.


  • Civil Rights Organizations Settle Hurricane Katrina Housing Discrimination Case against HUD and Louisiana

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New Orleans, Financing in New Orleans, Property Q&A in New Orleans  |  July 7, 2011 8:53 AM  |  2,412 views  |  No comments

    State Amends Problematic Hurricane Relief Program

    (New Orleans, LA) – Today, African-American homeowners and two civil rights organizations announced a settlement in a post-Hurricane Katrina housing discrimination lawsuit brought against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State of Louisiana regarding the “Road Home” program.

    The suit alleged that the formula used to allocate grants to homeowners through the Road Home program – the single largest housing recovery program in U.S. history – had a discriminatory impact on thousands of African-American homeowners.  Road Home program data show that African-Americans were more likely than whites to have their Road Home grants based upon the much lower pre-storm market value of their homes, rather than the estimated cost to repair damage.

    For example, one African-American plaintiff whose rebuilding grant was based upon pre-storm value received a $1,400 grant from the State to rebuild her home; but she would have received a grant of $150,000 had her rebuilding grant been based on the estimated cost of damage to the home.  These types of shortfalls played a key role in slowing down the recovery effort.  Under the terms of the settlement, HUD and the State of Louisiana will direct additional funds to individuals in heavily-affected parishes whose grants were based upon pre-storm value.

    The lawsuit was brought by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and five African-American homeowners in New Orleans, representing a potential class of over 20,000 people.  All plaintiffs are represented by co-lead counsel, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, as well as Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr.  Including today’s settlement agreement, the plaintiffs have achieved significant relief for homeowners in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana:

    • In response to the plaintiffs’ housing discrimination lawsuit, HUD and the State of Louisiana changed the Road Home program grant formula to provide full relief to more than 13,000 homeowners.  All eligible low- and moderate-income homeowners received supplemental grant awards totaling $473 million based upon the estimated cost of damage to their homes, rather than the original grants based merely upon the much lower pre-storm market value of their homes. 
    • By virtue of the settlement agreement, HUD and the State of Louisiana have agreed to amend the Road Home program to offer additional large supplemental rebuilding grants at an estimated value of over $60 million to several thousand homeowners whose initial Road Home Option 1 grant awards were based on the pre-storm market value of their homes and who have been unable to rebuild their homes.
    • In addition, the settlement agreement will provide thousands of homeowners additional time to rebuild their homes without the fear of penalty or foreclosure by the State of Louisiana.  Under the agreement, Road Home Option 1 homeowners whose grant awards were based upon pre-storm market value can receive a one-year extension of the re-occupancy covenants attached to their Road Home grants. 

    “I am glad that by standing up against this flawed program we made a difference for so many other people,” said Almarie Ford, one of the individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

    Shanna Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance said, “In addition to providing significant relief for individual homeowners, the Road Home lawsuit will serve as a warning to HUD and state officials nationwide to avoid the future use of pre-storm market value or similar market-driven criteria that have an obvious discriminatory impact on low-income and minority homeowners.”

    During the almost six years since the storm hit, countless homeowners struggled to rebuild.  Many have not yet succeeded, particularly in Orleans Parish.

    “Regrettably, the Road Home program became a road block for many.” said James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.  “This settlement is a step in the right direction toward getting more hurricane-affected homeowners back into their homes.  HUD and Louisiana must keep America’s promise to build a better New Orleans. And they must do so in a manner that is fair and equitable for all people regardless of their race.”

    John Payton, Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), said, “People who had similar homes and suffered the same type of damage should not have been treated differently simply because of the neighborhoods in which they live.  All New Orleanians, and all Louisianans, deserve a fair chance at rebuilding their homes and communities.”

    The coalition of homeowners and organizations that brought the lawsuit has vowed to continue providing assistance to homeowners and working for a fair recovery for all.


    About the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (www.gnofairhousing.org)

    The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private, non-profit civil rights organization established in the summer of 1995 to eradicate housing discrimination throughout the greater New Orleans area. Through education, investigation, and enforcement activities, GNOFHAC promotes fair competition throughout the housing marketplace -- rental, sales, lending, and insurance.

    GNOFHAC is dedicated to fighting housing discrimination not only because it is illegal, but also because it is a divisive force that perpetuates poverty, segregation, ignorance, fear, and hatred.

    About the National Fair Housing Alliance (www.nationalfairhousing.org)

    Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 120 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights groups, and individuals from 37 states and the District of Columbia.  Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA, through comprehensive education, advocacy and enforcement programs, provides equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans and insurance policies for millions of people.

    About the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (www.naacpldf.org)

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is America's premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. Since Hurricane Katrina, LDF has worked tirelessly to address the housing, education and political participation needs of displaced residents and those who have returned but still struggle to recover.

    About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC (www.cohenmilstein.com)

    For over 40 years, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC has been a pioneer in plaintiff class action lawsuits on behalf of victims of such abuses.  As one of the premier firms in the country handling major complex class actions, Cohen Milstein, with more than 60 attorneys and offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, is a firm that specializes in cases concerning Civil Rights, Antitrust, Securities Fraud, Human Rights, Consumer Protection and Unsafe Products, Employee Benefits, and Public Clients. Cohen Milstein has earned its national and international reputation by winning cases that other law firms did not want to handle.  The groundbreaking cases Cohen Milstein has litigated have resulted in landmark decisions on previously untried issues involving civil rights, price fixing, securities, and consumer rights.

  • Handbook on Zoning and Fair Housing in New Orleans

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New Orleans, How To... in New Orleans, Property Q&A in New Orleans  |  June 20, 2011 3:32 PM  |  1,856 views  |  No comments

    GNOFHAC and Lawyers' Committee Release Handbook on Zoning and Fair Housing

    News Orleans Agenda, News Report, Staff, May 12, 2011 
    Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Handbook to Assist in the Development of Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.
    Chart from Strategies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Proposals for the City of New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and Beyond
    Chart from Strategies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Proposals for the City of New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and Beyond (click on image for full chart).

    On April 28, 2011, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and national partner the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) released a handbook entitled "Strategies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Proposals for the City of New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and Beyond" to address impediments to fair housing in New Orleans. Copies of the handbook have been distributed to members and staff of the City Planning Commission (CPC). GNOFHAC hopes that Commission members will adopt the suggestions laid out in the handbook in the development of the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance in order to ensure a more just, economically integrated, and livable New Orleans.

    Specifically, the handbook recommends the adoption of two strategies to overcome identified impediments to fair housing in New Orleans:

    Inclusionary zoning would incentivize or require developers to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing units in every new development. This policy, used in hundreds of cities throughout the country, would avoid project-by-project political backlash against affordable housing and ensure mixed-income development and more integrated communities, making New Orleans a more competitive, livable place.

    A reasonable accommodations policy would provide a written procedure for developers of housing for people with disabilities to follow when requesting reasonable accommodations in zoning and land use decisions, as well as guidelines for the City Planning Commission to follow.

    In addition to promoting integration and healthier communities, adopting these strategies would help the city fulfill its duty to affirmatively further fair housing, as required with federal funds such as Community Development Block Grants.

    GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, "This handbook will provide city leaders with information about best practices from hundreds of other cities and counties that will help to ensure that our communities are more competitive and healthy, along with being compliant with federal civil rights requirements. We hope that our leaders will take the opportunity presented by the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance re-write to take a strong stand in favor of equity using the policies detailed in this handbook."

    "It is not only crucial to promoting equity and opportunity for all of its citizens, but also a legal duty for cities to takes steps to affirmatively further fair housing choice," said LCCRUL Executive Director Barbara Arnwine. "New Orleans is an iconic place that continues to struggle with segregation and discrimination. City officials have a unique opportunity, and an obligation, to enshrine fair housing strategies in the zoning code, and to make New Orleans a more just place for people of color and for people with disabilities."

    The "Strategies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing" handbook represents an innovative partnership between GNOFHAC and the LCCRUL, which, among other things, enforces fair housing laws throughout the country and provides legal assistance to nonprofit organizations, particularly in the Gulf Coast region.

    Related info:

    Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance Handbook
    Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance Handbook

    A copy of the handbook is available at http://www.gnofairhousing.org/pdfs/4-28-11_Strategies_to_Affirmatively_Further_Fair_Housing.pdf, and on GNOFHAC and the Lawyers' Committee's Web sites, www.gnofairhousing.org andwww.lawyerscommittee.org/projects/community_development/, respectively.

    The New Orleans Agenda.com is the leading local alternative for information on News, Arts, Culture & Entertainment in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region.


  • New Orleans gets $45 million to build new streetcar line

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New Orleans, Traffic & Public Transportation in New Orleans, Tech Tips in New Orleans  |  March 26, 2011 4:51 PM  |  1,654 views  |  No comments

    A Desire Named Streetcar

    What the oldest operating transit system in the U.S. can teach us about planning for tomorrow.


    Credit: Lauren Nassef

    This past January, the Federal Transit Administration signed an agreement with the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority for $45 million in federal economic stimulus funds to build a new, 1.5-mile streetcar line. It would link Canal Street with the Union Passenger Terminal, a 1954 structure that’s now home to the Amtrak and Greyhound stations.

    Skeptical New Orleanians wondered why. Of course, connecting to a regional transportation center was a sensible thing. But the line passed block after block of bleak, asphalt-savanna surface parking that flanks partially filled office towers. Why not route the new streetcar through communities that already had a denser residential population?

    The answer came pretty quickly. Routing the streetcar through an underused part of the city, it turned out, was like adding water to sea monkeys. The blocks came to life almost immediately.

    The Domain Companies, a developer specializing in mixed-use developments with projects in New York and Louisiana, announced that four of those empty blocks would soon give rise to some 450 new apartments and 125,000 square feet of retail and restaurants. Other projects also quickly took root in the area: An auto dealership would be converted into a much-needed downtown supermarket, and the 1,193-room Hyatt Regency New Orleans, which sits just north of the new streetcar line and has been empty since Hurricane Katrina, started getting a $243 million overhaul. The area even got a new name: the South Market District.

    “What we felt made this site ideal,” Matt Schwartz, principal of Domain Companies, told The Times-Picayune, “was the streetcar expansion.”

    If all goes well, the South Market District will be a textbook example of how transit-oriented development (TOD) is supposed to work. Bring in transit, and builders of higher-density residential and retail will follow.

    Yet listen carefully, and you can hear an echo in New Orleans. Because bringing TOD to New Orleans is a bit like telling Chicago about these tall buildings called skyscrapers. A popular bumper sticker here gets it right: “New Orleans: So Far Behind We’re Ahead.”

    In New Orleans, transit and development have always gone hand in hand. It’s home to one of America’s earliest urban transit systems—in 1835, horse-drawn cars on tracks starting making the trip from Canal Street some five miles upriver to the new town of Carrolton, which was being carved out of old plantations. Those who established the St. Charles line implicitly understood TOD, even before the acronym came along. The backers assumed the line would trigger development, and among the boosters were those who sought to sell lots along the way. It worked. The Garden District (among other neighborhoods) was born.

    The New Orleans experience also helps answer a common question among transit planners and cash-strapped municipalities: Why streetcars? Why not just expand bus routes? They’re cheaper, more flexible to route, and far quicker to implement.

    The short answer: because where streetcars go, people follow. People simply like streetcars better than buses—studies suggest that ridership typically increases by about one-third when streetcars replace a bus route. They’re smooth. There’s less lurching. And there’s less uncertainty about where they end up.

    Developers like the permanence of streetcars. Nobody invests in a retail complex or apartment building because it’s near a bus stop—that could move next week. But streetcar systems, which cost on the order of $40 million a mile, are viewed as longer lasting, certain to be around for at least a generation. You can put money on them.

    There’s another reason that is perhaps underappreciated in policy circles: Streetcars have charm. The streetcars serving the St. Charles line today are chiefly 900-series Perley A. Thomas cars, built in High Point, N.C., in the early 1920s. Their distinctive look, feel, and sound have created a coterie of fans. The St. Charles streetcar is one of the few mass-transit systems to earn four-and-half stars on Yelp—or get any attention at all, for that matter. The 74 reviewers enthuse about the cars as if they were an undiscovered diner.

    “There’s something about the smell of streetcar wood that just takes you to another era, and I love feeling the breeze through the open windows,” wrote a visitor from San Francisco. Another from South Pasadena, Calif., wrote that this was “The first public transportation I didn’t hate.”

    And it’s not just starry-eyed Californians. New Orleanians love them, and the cars attract commuters as well as tourists. “It’s impossible to be unhappy when you’re on the St. Charles streetcar,” wrote a local resident. Another suggested qualified love: “Consistent in its inconsistency. Dangerous in a yesteryear fashion. But as distinctive and charming as some seasonal berry sorbet.”

    Darrin Nordahl is the city designer for Davenport, Iowa, and the author of My Kind of Transit. In that book, he takes a long look at American cities—particularly New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh—where visitors and residents alike have fought to keep their streetcars, cable cars, monorails, and funiculars operating. Nordahl writes that he had an epiphany in Hong Kong, while riding the funicular. “Public transportation here was not just a means to a destination, but a destination itself.”

    Nordahl has read through a great many transit plans for cities large and small. All these plans focus on issues such as headway (timing between cars), geographic coverage, ridership, and “passenger miles traveled.” But not a single city plan has taken up the issue of what makes a trip truly enjoyable for passengers. As Nordahl writes, “The experience offered to the passenger—the ‘fun-factor’—did not seem to weigh anywhere within transportation proposals.”

    He believes they should. “Once upon a time, traffic engineers told us how we should design a street,” Nordahl told me. So streets ended up being what one writer has referred to as “traffic sewers”—concrete sluices designed strictly for cars. That attitude has changed. “Now there’s this movement all across the country where we’re redesigning streets—they’re narrower, and travel is slower, but they’re very inviting and comfortable for pedestrians,” he said.

    Much the same approach could be applied to transit, he suggested. Nordahl singles out the St. Charles streetcar as a good example. Like a narrow street full of intriguing storefronts, the streetcar has an almost baroque complexity of textures and materials: leather, steel, brass, mahogany, dangerously wide-open windows. (Compare this to the bus interiors of plastic with a few steel accents, and sealed windows, at times covered with billboard-sized advertising that permit only dim and blurry views of the outside—treating the customer like Spam in a highly decorated can.)

    The St. Charles streetcar line is an exception in many ways. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is thus exempted from meeting a number of modern standards (such as handicapped accessibility; heat and air-conditioning; windows that open just a few inches). But it and other streetcars suggest that paying attention to the experience is not just an exercise in feel-goodism. It makes practical sense, in part by attracting “premium riders.” These are people who take public transit not because they lack other options, but because they choose to leave their cars behind. That’s a benefit for all, since it spreads the costs more widely, allows popular lines to underwrite routes in less popular or populated areas, and reduces the stigma of public transit. Everyone wins.


  • FREE fair housing summit in New Orleans

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New Orleans, Home Buying in New Orleans, Rental Basics in New Orleans  |  January 5, 2011 2:42 PM  |  1,547 views  |  No comments
    Fit for a King 2011

    Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center

    Don't miss our FREE fair housing summit next Friday, January 14th, now at First Grace United Methodist Church at 3401 Canal St.

    This year's theme is “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing as a Holistic Vision for Healthy Communities.” Communities that receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and other types of federal funding are required to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). This summit will explore what AFFH means, and strategies for its implementation. The summit will feature:

    - An Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) 101 with nationally recognized AFFH expert Michael Allen
    - A panel on Place-Based Initiatives (PBIs) as a method of pairing affordable housing with resources and amenities
    - A keynote address by Sara Pratt, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Programs
    - A presentation on innovative enforcement tactics and creative outreach strategies GNOFHAC and its organizational partners have successfully used to further fair housing
    - An opportunity to participate in the creation of a People's Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing.

    All events will take place between 9:00 AM and 4:30 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2011 at First Grace United Methodist Church - 3401 Canal St. in New Orleans. Admission is free and lunch is included. Registration is required. Register at http://www.fitforaking.org

    This year at the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center's 4th Annual Fit For a King Celebration, celebrate King's legacy by attending a free conference on strategies for affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH) in our communities.



    Friday, January 14th, 2011 • 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM • FREE!

    LOCATION CHANGE: First Grace United Methodist Church 3401 Canal St. (at Jefferson Davis Pkwy)

    Register here (required)

    Under the Fair Housing Act it is often not enough for communities to stand against housing discrimination. Municipalities that receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and other types of federal funding are required to actually affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). This free summit will introduce the concept of AFFH and explore strategies for affirmatively furthering fair housing. The summit will feature:

    9:00-9:30 AM:  Registration & Refreshments
    9:30-10:45 AM:  Welcome & Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) 101 with GNOFHAC Director James Perry and nationally recognized AFFH expert Michael Allen.

    10:45-12:00 PM:  Panel on Place-Based Initiatives (PBIs) as a method of pairing affordable housing with resources and amenities.  
    12:00-1:30 PM:  Complimentary Lunch & Keynote address by Sara Pratt, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Programs.

    1:45-3:30 PM:  Presentation on enforcement tactics and creative outreach strategies GNOFHAC and its organizational partners have successfully used to further fair housing.

    3:30-4:30 PM:  Creation of People's Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing 


    Click here to register!



    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New Orleans, Rental Basics in New Orleans, Rentals in New Orleans  |  December 21, 2010 4:37 PM  |  2,276 views  |  No comments



    CONTACT: Kate Scott

    December 20, 2010      



     On December 17, 2010, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed suit against the Bouchon Family Limited Partnership and Betty Bouchon.  The lawsuit stems from two unrelated complaints of discrimination by housing consumers.  Both complained that Ms. Bouchon was using race to discriminate against renters at a sixteen (16) unit housing complex located at 4905 and 4919 Canal Street, in New Orleans, LA.  Over the course of a year, GNOFHAC tested the complex for discrimination.  GNOFHAC mystery shoppers attempted to rent units at the complex.  During the process, the mystery shoppers documented blatant discrimination by Ms. Bouchon.
    Ms. Bouchon refused to allow any black mystery shoppers the opportunity to rent units, and made numerous racially discriminatory comments.  At one point, Ms. Bouchon informed a white mystery shopper that she saw a black girl who she thought was interested in seeing the apartment so she left the premises so that she would not have to show the unit to the black girl.  She later informed a white mystery shopper that the rental unit is located in “a safe neighborhood, one of the only safe ones left because we don’t have any blacks here” (listen).  In the same meeting she advised the mystery shopper that a lot blacks were calling her about the apartment so she simply did not answer the phone (listen).
    After extensively documenting alleged discrimination, GNOFHAC filed an administrative complaint on September 24, 2009 with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was investigated by the Louisiana Department of Justice.  On May 21, 2009, the Louisiana Department of Justice found for GNOFHAC and issued a charge against Betty Bouchon and the Bouchon Family Limited Partnership, determining that there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination took place.  Subsequently, GNOFHAC filed the instant lawsuit.

    GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, “Our investigation discovered that over the course of more than a year, Ms. Bouchon engaged in a pattern of illegal, intentional, racial, housing discrimination. I am saddened that in 2010, such execrable bigotry still persists. The finding in this case serves to embolden the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center as we advocate for fair housing choice for all New Orleans residents.”

    The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private nonprofit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.  The activities described in this release were privately funded.
  • Last Hope for Classic New Orleans Architecture

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in New Orleans, In My Neighborhood in New Orleans, Moving in New Orleans  |  November 14, 2010 11:22 PM  |  2,460 views  |  No comments

    Wide Load: With Mass Demolition Imminent, House Moving Becomes Last Hope for Classic New Orleans Architecture

    By Brad Vogel National Trust for Historic Preservation November 5th, 2010

    What happens when you move history? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately.

    For over a year, I’ve been following developments in the footprints of the proposed Louisiana State University (LSU) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital complexes in New Orleans, which will be built literally on top of the Mid-City National Register Historic District. I take daily walks through the area, where I’ve witnessed some 30 contributing historic structures lose battles with the bulldozer. I’ve also witnessed something that can only be described as bittersweet – historic homes saved from demolition, but loaded onto mobile platforms and carted away from where they’ve always stretched their roots.

    Full story at: http://blog.preservationnation.org/2010/11/05/wide-load-with-mass-demolition-imminent-house-moving-becomes-last-hope-for-classic-new-orleans-architecture/

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