Racist St. Bernard Parish Leaders Will Stop at Nothing

Back in October and November of last year, I did a lot of talking about some business in St. Bernard Parish, a Parish near New Orleans. You can find my previous update and links to all my writing on this topic here.

In a nutshell, St. Bernard is 81.6% white, and the housing is mostly single-family homes. Some developers are trying to build apartments that will be more affordable to low-income individuals, a group in that area in which blacks are overrepresented. Well, white city leaders have a PROBLEM!!! with this, and have gone to great lengths to prevent the building of this affordable housing, including lengths of dubious legality, which can be found at my link above.

So construction on the apartments finally started, but then:

A roiling battle over four mixed-income apartment buildings in St. Bernard Parish reached a boil Friday, with Parish President Craig Taffaro ordering a halt to construction after the developer’s attorneys forced the case out of a state judge’s hands and back into federal court.

Within hours, however, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan called foul, ordering parish officials to “purge themselves of contempt” by today at 5 p.m. or begin paying $25,000 per day in fines, then $50,000 per day after Tuesday.

For some reason, Taffaro had ordered this halt “three days after the Parish Council repealed two ordinances that restrict mult-family and rental properties.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development fair housing enforcement officials have said they would block federal money coming into the parish — and possibly to Louisiana as a whole — if the parish did not rescind the ordinances. HUD officials said the laws discriminate against African-Americans who are disproportionately in need of such housing in the New Orleans area.”

People, what the hell is going on here?


2 thoughts on “Racist St. Bernard Parish Leaders Will Stop at Nothing

  1. Unfortunately, the situation in St. Bernard Parish is far from what is reported on these four construction sites; most media refuse to report the resident’s point of view.

    It is irresponsible to continue to exploit racial concerns in order to sell headlines. Looking for racism and finding it where it does not exist only perpetuates racism. The demographics from the 2010 census may interest you, but that data will not support your theory. Nor will the rental market data, which does not support the claim for a NEED for public housing.

    The developer allowed the building permits to expire, were notified as such and instructed to re-apply. According to the local parish government, the local officials, including building inspectors, are barred by the court from entering the properties. With such a large diverse population of Hispanic, Vietnamese, Islenos, Caucasian, African American, Middle Eastern (India and Pakistan), and Honduran and other Central and South American descendants living in or near poverty level, the majority of the tenants would most likely not be African American. There is an abundance of rental properties available and this data is supported by the real estate market data for the local parish. And this does not include all the spaces available in the trailer and RV parks. The majority of the residents living in the trailer and RV parks are very poor, but do not qualify for these developments low income criteria.

    These four developments are located in repetitive flood zones with questionable water retention and drainage methods which may adversely affect the existing residential neighborhoods. They need to follow the rules like everyone else. There was a pond and natural wetlands habitat which was destroyed and covered-up before applying for an Army Corps of Engineers wetlands permit. The COE testified in council hearing that they made an error and additionally that they never did soil samples nor did a determination with “boots on the ground.” Instead, they made an expedient determination from the office with the wrong map. There are documented clean water act violations which neither the EPA nor Louisiana DEQ have followed up on. The developers did not public notice the COE wetlands, the La DEQ water discharge, nor the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency applications in either of the two local newspapers, denying the community it’s human right to secure tenure and right to public participation, including the right to equal access to all information before decisions are made. Nor would the developer provide information to residents who requested, and that information was not included in the documents received from the State of Louisiana, upon public records requests which were denied for nearly a month until just before the State Board (Housing Finance Agency) voted to approve the funding application. Public record request to the local parish government remains denied.

    The developer just does not respect the local community and cries racism when they do not want to follow the rules.

    In the part of New Orleans known as Lakeview, where in 2005 the 17th Street canal levee failed, the State of Louisiana and HUD have allowed a revitalization program which supports real estate property values and the integrity of a predominately single-family, owner occupied residential neighborhood. The program gives incentives to rebuild single-family dwellings if the property owner agrees to occupy the home for upwards of 5 years, or have an immediate family member occupy the home from the same length of time. No One Called Racism.

    In two other parts of New Orleans known as New Orleans East and Eastover subdivision, developers were denied council approval by the City of New Orleans to construct multi-family, subsidized housing, because the developments would bring crime, high density, devaluation of property, and lower the quality of life. No One Called Racism.

    After the levee failures and the massive crude oil spill of Hurricane Katrina, many contractors, mostly from the State of Florida, swooped down like vultures to take advantage of the victims of the disaster and buy up the housing stock. Their methods of construction were substandard, often not passing inspection and their mold and contamination remediation were very questionable; closing the walls and leaving many homes with the mud and junk of the flood still on the studs. While the contractors intended to flip the houses at over-inflated prices, the market began to crash. Suddenly, the contractors wanted to set up commercial real estate businesses and become absentee landlords with gouging rental prices.
    However cruelly motivated some council members may be, the ordinances were passed to require anyone choosing to become a landlord to obtain a sort of business occupational license in the form of a rental permit. There was an exemption similar to the Lakeview approved exemption: if your tenant was an immediate family member, there was no need to apply for the rental permit, but your property was still subject to commercial building inspections and you still needed to apply as a real estate business. That’s when GNO Fair Housing jumped in.

    It should be known, GNO Fair Housing refused to represent homeowners in a certain area of the Murphy Oil crude oil spill who were denied these rental permits, while many others were receiving these permits. The denials were because the St. Bernard Parish Government publicly supported the voluntary buy-up of the neighborhood in that particular area for expansion of the refinery. GNO Fair Housing reason to residents to deny representation was vague and elusive. Yet, along comes this developer with $61 million to construct 288 rental units (that’s over $200,000 per unit), with a monthly rental revenue of over $51,000 per complex for each of the four complexes, piggy-backing onto the GNO Fair Housing Federal consent decree, crying racism. That’s more like the RACE to the bank.

    Around the same time, apartment landlords in a particular area known as Village Square were denied building permits as a moratorium was placed in this one area because there was a possibility of funding for a voluntary buy up with a hazard mitigation program for greenspace. Village Square was predominately mixed income, high density apartments occupied primarly by whites or middle eastern descendants. No one called racism.

    The council made it publicly known that any land in that general northern vicinity of this low lying flood zone may also be bought out for greenspace. Yet, in the same general area, this developer is allowed one of its four developments.

    Although not affiliated with this commenter, there is an association of residents referred to N.O.W. concerned citizens of St. Bernard Parish, who are concerned about the lack of wetlands permits and the way this developer has received royal treatment. They have a website with photos and commentaries at this link.

    And N.O.W. you know. These carpet bagger developers need to follow the rules like everyone else.

  2. To the author of the initial article: Racism indeed exists when policymakers make a degree of ancestry a legal requirement to access housing. See SBPC #370-09-06, Summary 1911, dated September 19, 2006. Less than 1 year ago SBP settled in cases involving this ordinance. Learn more on this exact issue by reading How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow? Racism in 21st Century New Orleans. ABC-CLIO 2014.

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