meanwhile, in New Orleans12 Nov 2005
Are we going to witness the first ever gentrification of an entire city? Sadly the answer may be yes:
A local judge told me that their court expects to process a thousand evictions a day for weeks. Renters still in shelters or temporary homes across the country will never see the court notice taped to the door of their home. Because they will not show up for the eviction hearing that they do not know about, their possessions will be tossed out in the street…”
In short, they force people out their homes, keep them away from their homes at gunpoint and, then, post the legally-required notices on front doors that renters cannot access. But, hey, it’s legal.
Alternet captures the human impact of these evictions by presenting Giselle Smith, “a single mom with three children” who returned to a damaged but intact house that she meticulously cleaned up and restored. Her problem? She rents. “The very day that the governor lifted the moratorium on evictions, her landlord presented her with an eviction notice. The reason? Failure to pay September’s rent. The Smiths, like everyone else in the city, had been forced to evacuate, and her home had no electricity or water or sewage. She also had to pay rent in Houston for September, and didn’t have money to pay rent in two places. Ms. Smith is determined to fight the eviction, and local lawyers have come to her aid. But the real reason for the eviction notice is that houses that didn’t flood are at a premium and her landlord, like many others, is eager to cash in. Ms. Smith’s neighbors down the block were paying $800 rent until they came home to find their rent jacked up to $1,300. By end of the week her long-time neighbors, a black family, had packed up and a white family took their place.”
It seems like the logic working in Smith’s favor is that if she is held to pay rent for September, surely her landlord should be held responsible for the lack of electricity, water, or sewage. But how many times is this happening to other people – people who can’t afford to file lawsuits or have no choice?