On July 21st, several news channels in Dallas covered what they referred to as a “riot” or, better yet, a “stampede” for rental assistance vouchers. (See: http://newsone.com/nation/jothomas/section-8-stampede-dallas/) Estimates ranged from hundreds to thousands of people running desperately once the local housing office was open simply for the chance to fill out an application. Prominent were images of this mass of running people and interviews with those who had been injured. “Rental assistance at what price?” asks Ron Corning of Dallas, Texas’ (http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Hundreds-line-up-for-Dallas-County-Rental-Vouchers-125555383.html)
What story is the mainstream media telling? With words like “riot” and “stampede,” one might think they were talking about a violent, crazed and criminal group. The reality involved poor and hard working family desperate to keep or put a roof of their heads. Criminalizing people simply because they are poor is not new, however, in media or in policy. Families that receive rental assistance live under the constant threat of “one-strike” rules and are required to do monthly community service, whereas wealthier families that receive “rental assistance” through the mortgage interest tax deduction (“MID”) do not).
This is the first time in 5 years that the City of Dallas has opened its Section 8 rental assistance vouchers wait list. 15,000 families were expected to apply for roughly 3,500 newly available vouchers. Yes, families. 40-50% of recipients of rental assistance are families with children; 15% are seniors; 19% disabled. While budgets are slashed on the backs of working and middle-class people, and banks get bailed out in the trillions, people who are in need of rental assistance are set against one another in the struggle to survive with only enough assistance to house 1 in 4 of them, and that’s IF they are eligible based on an ever-narrowing set of criteria.
Put another way, we have one of the most severe human rights crisis in many decades, particularly around the human right to housing, and our government stands by mutely while families are forced to participate in a foot race for ever shrinking resources. Yet, this is not an issue of resources; it is an issue of values and whether we are committed to being an equitable society. Low-income housing programs receive less than $4 billion, while subsidies for wealthier homeowners, such as the MID, cost the government over $150 billion. Simply through equitable reforms of federal housing finance policy, rental assistance for those who need it most could be available as an entitlement and we would be one large step closer to protecting housing as a human right. Rather than forcing families to race in desperation, we should be racing to create human rights based solutions that are equitable and ensure the dignity of all our communities.
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Survivors Village joins with other groups nationwide this Valentines Day to stand against the proposed cuts to housing. Click on the link below to read more and HAVE A HEART!
Fact Sheet on Pending Housing Cuts
Also see this press release from the National Low Income Housing Coalition
Update 2/22: For more info on the House budget proposal: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/2012-budget-housing-aid-house-gop_n_824189.html
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Sharon Jasper found guilty of battery in Municipal court.
The attempt by the government to punish our sister Sharon Jasper for standing up for her constitutional rights continued today as a judge found her guilty of battery and sentenced her to time served.
It is clear that the persons behind the campaign of racial and ethnic cleansing in the city of New Orleans see Ms. Jasper as a dangerous symbol of strength and resistance, and are persecuting her in an attempt to strike fear into other residents and discourage future dissent, even as they remove poor people from the valuable land that they occupied prior to the storm and place it in the hands of the white and/or middle class citizens.
Ms Jasper left the court with her
head held high and vowed not to be
intimidated and to continue the fight
for safe, decent, and sanitary
housing for all citizens.
The trial today was a part of an all out attack on Ms. Jasper. Yesterday, she and her supporters spent all day at the housing authority in a hearing to determine whether she can maintain her voucher and continue to have affordable housing.
We must all say HANDS OFF MS. JASPER’S VOUCHER
and support her appeal of this unjust conviction!!
Watch for an announcement early next week about the next step in this struggle and ways you can support Ms. Jasper.
HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!!
the struggle continues…
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Employees of Columbia Parc resisted all efforts on the part of the Municipal court judge and the New Orleans city attorney’s office to settle the case against Ms. Sharon Jasper and forced a full fledged trial yesterday in municipal court.
The court heard testimony of nine witnesses from both sides, then set a date of October 14 at 4 pm for a ruling. We must all now wait two more weeks to find out the fate of our comrade and strong sister.
Ms. Jasper was represented very well by Miles Swanson, an up-and-coming movement defense attorney.
It is clear to all that this trial is not about Sharon Jasper, but an all out attempt to use fear and intimidation to keep residents of public housing in New Orleans from opposing the destruction of their communities. The plan is to convict Ms, Jasper of this trumped up charge and use the conviction as a reason to take her housing voucher away. In doing this they will rid themselves of a fearless and uncompromising resident leader and make other residents afraid to oppose them in the future. This is a form of terrorism, using housing vouchers as the weapon of terror.
Ms. Jasper had a great show of support today. The court officers were not ready for this kind of community support, so after awhile they started turning people away from the court until Attorney Davida Finger intervened to insure that people were allowed to enter.
We cannot waste the next two weeks. We need to build an even stronger movement around the case. We need to make sure our voices are heard by HANO, HUD, the receiver, Mr. Gilmore and Shaun Donovan. We cannot allow Sharon Jasper to be sacrificed on the altar of injustice.
If they win this one, New Orleans will be a very dangerous place for all who refuse to suffer in silence. October 14 must be our day!! We’ll plan to gather around 3 pm for a rally to support Ms. Jasper. SEE YOU THERE!!
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Community Rally to Educate President Obama
Sunday, August 29, 2010 — 11 am
Fight Back Community Center
3820 Alfred St., New Orleans, LA 70122
(across from the 3800 block of St. Bernard Ave.)
President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the St. Bernard community TODAY at 3 pm to view the Columbia Parc development as part of events to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Survivors Village will host a community rally in the St. Bernard community starting at 11 am to highlight the exclusionary policies, retaliatory tactics, and outright lies of the Columbia Residential corporation and to educate President Obama about the ongoing struggle of the former St. Bernard residents to realize their human right to return to their homes and community.
“President Obama has to be exposed to the truth”, says former resident and Survivors Village member Kawana Jasper. “Columbia Parc received its contract through corruption, lied to the residents at every step of the development process, and is trying to intimidate the residents with false charges and threats.” Survivors Village member Stephanie Mingo says, “We will be heard. Obama promised that he would do right by the people of the Gulf Coast, and we intend to make him live up to that promise. If he continues to let Columbia Parc get away with their criminal and discriminatory behavior, then he will be doing no better than Bush”.
To ensure that the human rights of the St. Bernard residents are respected, protected, and fulfilled by the Obama administration, Survivors Village is demanding that any former resident wanting to live in Columbia Park should be admitted immediately and unconditionally; that the false charges against Sharon Jasper be dropped immediately and the threat to terminate her voucher be withdrawn; that the demand for more than 30,000 Section 8 vouchers be met immediately; and that the PETRA bill threatening to privatize public housing throughout the country be permanently withdrawn.
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Ms. Sharon’s hearing has been scheduled for:
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 4 pm
Municipal Court, Section D
Tulane & Broad
We need everyone to come out in support of Ms. Sharon and the right of all to protest nonviolently.
See Youtube video re: Ms. Sharon’s story and the attack on her civil right of protest and human right to housing here:
Sign on to petition and send letters to the relevant parties here
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