With 30,000 youth volunteers from the Lutheran Church roaming the streets of New Orleans in large herds over this past weekend, you may be forgiven for not noticing a slightly smaller group of visitors that will remain in town for much of the week: the United Nations Advisory Group on Forced Evictions.
They've been studying the consequences of public and affordable housing policy on the New Orleans community in meetings with residents and community organization leaders. The Times-Picayune's Katy Reckdahl was with them for part of the day yesterday as they toured they spoke to homeless residents and representative from the outreach group UNITY of Greater New Orleans about the 2005 flood's impact on the affordable housing stock and moribund efforts to substantially increase access and availability.
But they're not just here to examine the consequences of already-executed bad policy.
The United Nations Advisors are also looking closely at the impending forced evictions facing homeowners and residents in the Lower Mid-City footprint slated for demolition under the stalled LSU/VA replacement hospital proposal. Yesterday, they met some the neighbors we've profiled here at SaveCharityHospital.com under Community Voices.
The Advisory Group will meet with local elected officials later this week before flying to the nation's capital to discuss their findings with officials from Congress and the Obama Administration.
Change.org's blog, Poverty in America, noticed the same strong writing in the Advisory Group's press packet that we did:
The forced evictions being investigated in New Orleans come as a result of a rebuilding process that favors private sector interests over the interests of residents. This emphasis on private sector development is being felt across the country with devastating effects including the current economic crisis, which has its roots in the housing sector. While post-Katrina redevelopment policies have had a disproportion-ately adverse impact on poor and low-income African American communities, the ongoing lack of afford-able housing, and the evictions to make way for private sector development, is a significant issue for all residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
We look forward to their preliminary report.