Friday, December 21, 2007

The House of the Falling Sun

My feeble attempt to say something witty about the New Orleans City Council meeting which decided to "demolish a vast swatch of subsidized housing units". There were demonstrations and riots against this decision, and when I was reading the early reports on them at various links I noticed an unusually biased take in at least three of them, with the implication that the demonstrations were brought in from outside and that all right-thinking people agree with the plan to demolish those units.

And that may well be true, of course. But those articles didn't tell me what it was that the protesters were angry about. I was supposed to assume that they were just a bunch of loonies, and this made me more determined to find out both sides of the issue.

The official side is that the old housing units for the poor were storage facilities, places in which crime and despondency flourished and not homes at all. They segregated the poor from the rest of the community and didn't serve the initial purpose of subsidized housing. From this angle starting from scratch and building new small-sized units in mixed-income areas sounds like a great plan.

But the other side is also important, and it has to do with the suspicion some have that the city of New Orleans doesn't just want to get rid of the old buildings for the poor but that it also wants to get rid of the poor at the same time. At least this Los Angeles Times article covered both sides.