HANO calls on residents of the Iberville housing
development to come back home
11:10 PM CST on Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Ben Lemoine / WWL-TV News Reporter
When every public housing development on the east bank of New Orleans was damaged during Hurricane Katrina, federal housing authorities promised a new way of rebuilding them, but the old buildings have currently been renovated and many residents of the Iberville development have been told by HANO to come back home.
The worst part of evacuating for Kim Aburime and her family was just being away from home. Aburime fled her Iberville housing development apartment when the water was five feet high. Even though FEMA has been paying for a place for her to live in Baton Rouge, Aburime said she’d rather pay her $172 a month rent to come back home.
“And when they called and told me that the project was ready, I flew, I caught the bus, I caught the train, anything to get back home to New Orleans,” said Aburime.
Around the development, dozens of work crews have been cleaning, repairing, and coating the walls with fresh paint. Many units have new floors and appliances.
Shortly after the storm, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson cited pre-Katrina problems with housing developments in New Orleans, leading many people to believe the doors would remain closed and locked, rather than repainted and open for tenants.
“We’re not going to build traditional public housing anymore. We’re going to integrate it both socially and economically. They have been isolated too long, and we’re not going to be a part of rebuilding communities that way,” Jackson said, shortly after Katrina.
Donna White, a spokeswoman for HUD, said Jackson was speaking long term.
“Right now, we’re talking about families needed a place to live, a roof over their head. We do have a long term plan in place. For example, I think we talked about C.J. Peete, and a redevelopment of that housing community, so perhaps down the road, the Department and the Housing Authority will be able to look at how the public housing is situated and perhaps make some improvements.”
Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson responded, “HUD is responding compassionately to the immediate need of people to come home to live their lives. However, I am working with HUD and HANO to create a long term plan that will provide a greater quality of life in Iberville.”
HUD officials said they have been trying to contact former tenants of Iberville to tell them they can come home as their apartments are repaired and pass safety inspections. They also said there is no timeline on when any housing developments will be replaced with more modern, mixed income living.