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Fighting over the Future of New Orleans

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Fighting over the Future of New Orleans

Fighting over the Future of New Orleans

Fighting over the Future of New Orleans

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/17494419/17494377" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Police turn away protesters after the City Council votes to demolish 218 public housing buildings.

BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ALISON STEWART, Host:

I'm Alison Stewart, by the way.

MIKE PESCA, Host:

When people said, hey, what do you think about having Bill Wolff on? I said, I'm not married to him. And Alison said...

STEWART: I am.

PESCA: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PESCA: It's December 21st, 2007. And today is the day of the big NPR holiday party. This is the last day for office holiday parties, especially if you lack at the schedule and...

STEWART: Yeah.

PESCA: Excited?

STEWART: It's my first, if I can stay awake. I have never been to an NPR holiday party. I'm curious to see the, you know, Mr. Krulwich wear the lampshade at the end of the night. Margot Adler...

PESCA: He starts off with the lampshade.

STEWART: Ah.

PESCA: And then he ends up with an entire (unintelligible). It's unbelievable, the strength of that man.

STEWART: I'm sort of curious to watch you guys party.

PESCA: All I could say is when engineer Manio Zuba(ph) offers you Jell-O, that has not just Jell-O.

STEWART: You know, it just sucks.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PESCA: Coming up on the show, pollster Andrew Kohut is here to talk about how to read the polls.

STEWART: But first, here is The BPP's Big Story.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PESCA: Protests erupt in New Orleans over a plan to demolish public housing.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTERS)

STEWART: Meanwhile, inside, after a six-hour meeting, the city council voted unanimously to demolish the four largest housing developments in New Orleans to make way for mixed-income homes.

PESCA: Council President Arnie Fielkow said that mismanagement and neglect have left the complexes dilapidated. He also said, quote, "It's my hope that the word project will never again be used in place of what should be transitional homes. Every citizen deserves a safe and affordable place to raise a family," end quote. Many of the 4,000 housing units have been vacant since Hurricane Katrina struck two years ago.

STEWART: Now, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin did not attend the meeting. He did, however, voice his support for the council's decision.

RAY NAGIN: This is an incredible day. You heard lots of pain today, pain from Katrina that was voiced. And the city council in its wisdom has come up with a solution that will allow us to move forward.

PESCA: The council laid out certain requirements for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, and the Housing Authority of New Orleans, HANO, they call it. It said that because of these requirements, they're going to try to ensure that low-income residents aren't left homeless.

STEWART: Attorney Tracey Washington said this to CNN.

TRACEY WASHINGTON: It's a race issue because the public housing developments were 100 percent black. And these are the people who are not being allowed to return to the city.

PESCA: The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the paper in that town, is siding with the city council. In an editorial yesterday, the paper said, quote, "For all the arguments this week about the needs of poor people, the truth is that these mammoth-old complexes had failed as decent housing long before Hurricane Katrina and the flood of August 2005."

STEWART: Now, here's Rachel Martin with even more news.

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