One year ago this week I was in NOLA, heading down the Gulf Coast seeing how people were dealing with the damage and neglect of the Federal Flood. Here’s an excerpt from one of the posts on the subject of housing in New Orleans,
It was probably my second day in New Orleans and I decided to go visit the common ground legal clinic. I had heard they were providing free legal advice and a mini computer lab for local residents who want to get informed about their rights and perhaps how to manage property issues that have emerged after Katrina. After some nice emailing with one of the spokespeople… I figured going there would be an interesting experience.
As usual I drove around in circles, distracted every five minutes by another neighborhood of abandoned or destroyed houses. Eventually I found the legal clinic on a very lovely and typical new orleans street with the nice trees growing in the middle island that people seem to refer to as neutral territory. A large house with a dry cleaners on the ground floor, as I pulled up I could already see lots of people hanging out using their computers… I knew I had come to the right place.
Fast forward an hour or so, I’m sitting on the front porch sharing a little plastic table with a pretty young lady on her laptop, both of us typing away franticly.
At some point I strike up a conversation. She’s a law student from Seattle… as are many of the volunteers at the legal clinic. They come down in waves whenever they can, and right now it was spring break. When I asked her what tasks she was working on, she held up a stack of photocopied newspaper pages.
“You see these… they look like classified ads don’t they? These are printed in the big local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, everyday. Thing is, they’re not classified ads, they notices of properties that are considered abandoned, warning people that they will be evicted from their property if they don’t do something about it.”
I looked at the tiny print and the neverending list of properties, each one representing a life, or probably a family. Looking up at the young law student, I asked if this was legal?
Read the full text here. The struggle continues.