Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lafitte est mort. Vive Lafitte!

Looks like the steel plates are coming down from the Lafitte housing project.
Looks like the Lafitte housing project is coming down with them.

I'm not sure yet how I feel about this development. From the Walmartification of St. Thomas, I think we should learn to be very wary of developers and Big-Idea public housing initiatives. Hell, the history of the superblock public housing trend should in itself make us wary. Across the country, cities have been tearing down their superblock housing for something more livable (often, something resembling what was there before). Whose bright idea was it to create massive blocks of poverty, anyway? I know that, when I saw the banners at the St. Bernard complex, claiming the "right of return," I couldn't help but ask myself, "return to what?" If the only way we can imagine bringing back the residents of these complexes is to put them back in the same substandard, dangerous situations, then that seems to me a dire failure of imagination.

So, on the one hand, a mixed-income development seems to make much more sense. And, on that same hand, the group that is planning the Lafitte redevelopment sounds pretty noble, promising "All 865 residents/families will be welcomed back. Additionally, we have a commitment for a one-for-one replacement of the 896 subsidized units located on the site prior to Katrina." But then, there's that other hand, on which decades of empty promises are stacked like a Dagwood sandwich.


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