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VOICES OF THE EVICTED follow-up information:
Thanks to the Louisburg Square apartment tenants, the hotel residents, and the housing rights activists who support displaced residents and human rights. Thanks also to the Peoples Video Network & Glass Bead Collective for supporting this video.
LOUISBURG SQUARE APARTMENT EVICTIONS:
The tenants still residing at Louisburg Square Apartment were ordered to vacate by court order of Jefferson Parish Civil Court Justice of Peace Wiltie, final exit date the end of December 2005. Tenants Rights activist Jeremy Prickett reports that protest actions by the Boston Tenants Coalition against Trustee of LES Realty Trust, Inc., which owns Louisburg Square Apartments, Leonard J. Samia in Boston prompted him to agree to offer displaced tenants their old apartments after remodeling at the old price. No agreement has been made to compensate tenants whose belongings were thrown in the streets.
HOTEL EVICTIONS, NEW ORLEANS:
92 Hotels in the greater new Orleans area have contracts to accept residents displaced from their homes who have been issued hotel vouchers paid for by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Housing Rights advocates are in negotiations with the Decatur Hotel Group, which owns the Cotton Exchange Hotel and others, to allow tenants to stay until the FEMA deadline of February 6, 2006. The Decatur Hotel Group receives payment from FEMA for 1800 rooms in 11 hotels which have been dedicated to receive payment for FEMA voucher hotel rooms for displaced New Orleans residents; although definite numbers of displaced residents with vouchers or of total area hotel rooms paid for by FEMA are not available, activists estimate that the Decatur Hotel Group statistics to be representative of the other 81 hotels.
After pickets and court injunctions by eviction defense activists, Decatur Hotel Group owner Frank Quinn voluntarily agreed to maintain housing for people with FEMA hotel vouchers until February 7th; however, as of January 28th, 2006, the Decatur Group and Frank Quinn have not returned phone calls to attorney Tracey Washington. Tracey Washington is a leading attorney who advocates on behalf of tenants and migrant workers and represents the displaced residents in hotel issues in the federal case McWaters vs. FEMA.
McWaters vs. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
McWaters v. Federal Emergency Management Agency , No. 2:05-cv-5488 (E.D. La. January 12, 2005) [Clearinghouse Number 55,992]
When grass roots housing rights advocates from Common Ground were asked if they were in negotiations with FEMA representatives as well about housing for the displaced residents, they reported that they did not have access to decision makers within the agency about the issues of evictions.
These Housing Rights activists also report that hotels are turning away people w/ FEMA vouchers. As more people return to the region, the residents in need of housing with vouchers are estimated to outnumber of rooms available. And as Mardi Gras approaches, an influx of tourists puts greater demands on the economically powerful Hotel industry, which journalist Rebecca Mowbray describes as a "logistical nightmare" which could make thousands homeless in days in an article for the Times Picayune posted at nola.com:
"But for hotels in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, which, according to FEMA, have evacuees staying in about 4,900 of their 22,000 rooms, the ruling could be a disaster". "Court is scheduled to resume Feb. 23. The case is Beatrice B. McWaters et al v. Federal Emergency Management Agency"
("Storm victims can stay put in hotels: Inns put in bind as Carnival nears" Friday, January 13, 2006 by Rebecca Mowbray, business writer: email@example.com or (504) 826-3417).
In New York City, the final date given for FEMA vouchered hotel rooms for evacuees of hurricanes Katrina and Rita is March 6, 2006. Tens of thousands of displaced residents of the Gulf South who cannot return home, have not been supported in returning home, or have no more home to return to, stay in hotel rooms paid for by FEMA around the country. Uncertain futures and another circumstance of homelessness face thousands of hurricane survivors.
SCOUT ISLAND, CITY PARK, NEW ORLEANS:
Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund has been supporting Scout Island migrant workers in advocating on behalf of migrant worker rights and better living conditions and placing the camp's tenants' demands before City Park officials and contracted management. http://cluonline.live.radicaldesigns.org/?p=82
The Apaches paid "a white woman" who had come to the White Mountain Reservation to solicit labor, money to bring them to New Orleans with a promise of work and housing. She kept their money and left them at City Park without paying the rent for their camp site or returning to arrange work. Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund helped negotiate rent and conditions for the Apaches with City Park officials.
Vie Kessay spoke with Tiokasin Ghosthorse about the Apache camp in New Orleans, how the Apache Nation members came to work in New Orleans and what their living and working conditions are like on WBAI's "Wake-up Call" in New York on Friday, January 27th, 2006. She also said that many of the Apache Nation members camped at City Park are returning to the reservation. In January (19th or 20th), Storm Force Inc., the contracted Scout Island camp management tried to break up a meeting between tenants and organziers and stop press recording. Over the weekend, the Apache Nation camp was relocated to another part of City Park, "under an overpass", reported Vie Kessay of the Apache nation. Apache Elmer Rolland Jr. was reported arrested on Thursday January 12th by members of his family. Family and legal assistance have not been able to locate him in the prison system, and he has not been heard from since.
HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT:
Self-determination and collective and social well-being is essential to democracy. Please support the housing rights of all people, all peoples' right to return home, and the re-opening of public schools in New Orleans.
CONTACT HOUSING RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN NEW ORLEANS:
To reach Housing Rights activists in New Orleans regarding public housing defense, housing rights advocates and eviction defense, please contact:
NO-HEAT (New Orleans Housing Emergency Action Team), especially regarding Public Housing: 504-883-8225
Common Ground Eviction Defense at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Louisburg Square Apartment and other eviction defense also at: email@example.com
Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition: 1-888-310-7473 or go to http://www.communitylaborunited.net
Attorney Tracey Washington represents many tenants rights in these issues and the Mississippi Workers Rights Alliance provides support of eviction defense as well. Jennifer Lai of the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund and other volunteer law students are also involved in supporting migrant worker and tenants rights. The Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance works on behalf of immigrant workers rights throughout the Gulf South Region.
Related Links ::: Common Ground Collective
, N.O. H.E.A.T.
, People's Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition