Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Housing Crisis

This is a bit of a dry read, but it's important to understand what's happening with public housing in New Orleans at the moment. Market housing has been priced out of reach of most service industry workers. Consequently, retail businesses of all kinds, as well as bars and restaurants, have tremendous staffing problems. Musicians (most of whom survive on pretty marginal pay) are having great difficulty finding places to live. Many are living in shacks, or on friends couches. Even people with more middle-class incomes, like postal workers, can't find affordable accomodation. That's why there are no mailboxes in New Orleans post-Katrina. There's not enough posties to empty them. If you want to mail a letter, you've got to take it to the post office.

Save NOLA Affordable Housing Fact Sheetfrom: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/blog/2006/12/save-nola-affordable-housing-fact.htmlThe following fact sheet came via an email from Bill Quigley. It has also been posted on justiceforneworleans.org, a website maintained by the Loyola University of New Orleans Law Clinic, which Quigley directs.

1. New Orleans is in the worst affordable housing crisis since the Civil War. The US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports that the city is 100% rented as tens of thousands of homes remain wrecked. There was a waiting list of 18,000 people for public and section 8 housing pre-Katrina. When the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) opened list for Section 8 in 2001, 19 thousand people applied.

2. Despite this, HUD has announced plans to demolish 4,534 apartments of public housing garden-style apartments:* 1546 in BW Cooper* 723 in C.J. Peete* 1400 in St. Bernard* 865 in Lafitte

3. John Fernandez, Associate Professor of Architecture at MIT, has inspected 140 of these apartments and has concluded “no structural or nonstructural damage was found that could reasonably warrant any cost-effective building demolition…Therefore, the general conclusions are: demolition of any of the buildings of these four projects is not supported by the evidence of the survey; replacement of these buildings with contemporary construction would yield buildings of lower quality and shorter lifetime duration; the original construction methods and materials of these projects are far superior in their resistance to hurricane conditions than typical new construction and, with renovation and regular maintenance, the lifetimes of the buildings in all four projects promise decades of continued service that may be extended indefinitely.”

4. HANO's own documents show that:* Lafitte could be repaired for $20million, even completely overhauled for $85 million, yet estimate for demolition and rebuilding many fewer units will cost $100m;* St. Bernard could be repaired for $41m, substantially modernized for $130m, demolition and rebuilding LESS UNITS will cost $197m;* BW Cooper could be substantially renovated for $135 million compared to $221m to demolish and rebuild LESS UNITS;* HANOs own insurance company reported that it would take less than $5000 each to repair CJ Peete apartments.

5.* St. Bernard will go from 1400 units to 595 apartments – of which 145 will be market rate – leaving 160 low-income public housing units and 160 tax credit (mixed income) units.* CJ Peete will go from 723 units to 410 units – 154 public housing; 133 tax credit (mixed income) and 123 market.* BW Cooper will go from 1546 units to 410 units – 154 public housing, 133 tax credit (mixed income) and 123 market.* Lafitte will go from 865 to only a fraction as well.

6. The developers of these properties will get federal assistance to demolish habitable affordable housing in the following amounts:* $12.8m in Go Zone tax credits for Lafitte, plus $16.3m in CDBG funds* $7.4m in Go Zone tax credits for St. Bernard plus $27m in CDBG funds* $6.9m in Go Zone tax credits for BW Cooper plus $27m in CDBG funds* $7.3m in Go Zone tax credits for CJ Peete plus $27m in CDBG funds

7. New York Times Architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, criticized this demolition saying on November 19, 2006: “Modestly scaled, they include some of the best public housing built in the United States….Solidly built, the buildings’ detailed brickwork, tile roofs and wrought-iron balustrades represent a level of craft more likely found on an Ivy League campus than in a contemporary public housing complex.”

Interestingly enough, HANO (Housing Authority of New Orleans) was taken over by HUD (a federal agency) about three years ago.

Pre-Katrina, Orleans Parish voted overwhelmingly for democratic candidates in municipal, state, and federal elections. Much of this support came from the African-American community, and from residents of public housing.

If I were a real paranoid, I might think there was some sort of connection here.

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