" 'Rental Katrina victims are essentially the most powerless group of all in
trying to fashion a recovery,' says Reilly Morse, an attorney with Mississippi
Center for Justice, which advocates for racial and economic justice along the
coast. 'They have to depend entirely on landowners and land developers to make
The loss was staggering. In a state where nearly 30 percent of the residents are renters, 72,116 renter-occupied units were damaged or destroyed by Katrina, according to Gov. Haley Barbour’s office."
The rebuilding I'm involved with is all homeowner properties, but the direct service and emergency assistance that our organization provides serves hundreds of non-homeowners who, though they may have secured a local job, are struggling to find a place to live. The massive destruction of rental properties has caused rents on the housing that is still available to shoot through the roof, and the demolition or neglect of public housing (*ahem*, HUD!!) and other low-income housing options leaves people with little choice but to live on the streets or move away to an prohibitively expensive commute or a new locale where they have no job and know no one. The icing on the cake is the epidemic of NIMBYism--Not In My Backyard attitudes--that has hit the Gulf Coast. One local city council even went so far as to pass a resolution barring all projects funded by income tax credits (shelters, affordable or public housing, prisons, etc.), because, as one city official put it, they don't want "those kind of people" moving in. Please just come right out and call it what it is--ethnic and socioeconomic cleansing.
How do you support a service-industry workforce, like the one we have here at the Coast's many casinos, without some kind of accessible, affordable housing??