Five months after announcing plans to demolish most of the flood-damaged public housing complexes New Orleans, the Housing Authority of New Orleans was berated by tenants at a crowded, fiery meeting Wednesday evening.
Thousands of public housing families remain scattered from their hometown and distressed that the government has aimed a wrecking ball at the homes where they once slept. They vented their frustrations at the public hearing.
The meeting, required by law before HANO can send bulldozers to raze the city’s four largest public housing complexes or private developers to rebuild them into planned mixed-income neighborhoods, drew hundreds to the auditorium of John McDonogh Senior High School.
"Let me repeat, we want our families back," said Donald Babers, the one-man HANO board of commissioners appointed by the federal government to preside over New Orleans’ post-hurricane redevelopment of public housing.
Babers got off easy.
Taking the brunt
Darren Martin, HANO’s government liaison, who acted as moderator, was shouted at and called a "puppet" and other names.
"We opened up Iberville first," Martin had said earlier in his introduction, noting that some residents were allowed to return to parts of the complex. He said that showed HANO is on the residents’ side. "There was a sentiment in this city which didn’t want us to come back."
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