Dear <Representative/Senator name>,
On Martin Luther King Day, when residents of the St. Bernard housing development in New Orleans
returned to clean up their units and begin the process of rebuilding
their community, HUD responded with a lawsuitasking a federal judge
to kick them out and seeking monetary damages. It's shameful
and runs completely counter to HUD's stated mission of "...increas[ing] access to affordable housing free from discrimination."
Eighteen months after Katrina, HUD's top priority in the Gulf should be to help
survivors return home. Instead, it has delayed the process of
cleaning up and rehabilitating public housing units, and finally it
announced it will destroy them. More troubling, the justifications HUD has provided for their plansuch as the buildings being damaged beyond repair or it being cheaper to rebuild themhave all been proven false.
Instead of moving quickly to put preciously-needed housing stock into
use, HUD plans to completely destroy the majority of New Orleans’
public housing. It will bulldoze 4,500 units in sound buildings that
could be easily repaired with minimal investment, and over $100
million in Katrina grants and tax credits will be given to private
developers to build new housing, only a small fraction of which will be for low-income residents. HUD has insisted on moving forward with its plans,
despite widespread criticism and multiple reports indicating that
rehabilitating the units would be more cost effective and deliver
needed housing sooner.
We ask that HUD drop its lawsuit and that Congress order HUD to
reopen public housing and provide residents with direct assistance to
repair and rebuild. Those displaced by Katrina have a right to
return, and HUD should be on the forefront of protecting that right,
not actively undermining it.
[your name here]