Magnolia public housing Project

The topic of public housing in New Orleans is much too broad and multi-faceted to address here, so I will focus upon the history of three public housing projects, and how their destruction is related to institutionalized racism and gentrification in New Orleans. I will focus upon the St Thomas, Desire, and Iberville projects as examples of different issues, through different eras of time until today. St Thomas was an example of the first wave of public housing, Desire the second, and what is intended for Iberville is the third wave, in which public housing is, for all intents and purposes, nullified. These buildings should be protected from both demolition and privatization. They need to be preserved in their original state for preservation reasons, and should be protected by historic preservation law. It is crucial to the historic fabric of our city that we preserve not just the impressive beautiful buildings, but those occupied by working class citizens as well. After all it is these people that created the unique culture we have here in New Orleans. They need to be preserved in their original function because it is a human rights violation to do otherwise. The original purpose of public housing needs to be preserved to maintain a fair and just urban fabric, and to facilitate the rebuilding of New Orleans without disenfranchising large portions of its’ population.

In a way, public housing itself was the first government endorsed gentrification in American cities. The original intent was to clean up perceived squalor and blight by giving the poorest of the poor housing up to a perceived national standard. At the time, though, many urban poor, especially blacks, did not have access to things taken for granted today, such as indoor plumbing and hot water. The intent of the WPA was to raise standards of living, and also to create jobs, which it accomplished. The Civil Works Administration, a New Deal enactment, rehabilitated or build 33, 850 public buildings in 1933 alone, employing 4.2 million people, all with direct government money. (Cedric 159) Many were grateful to move into these first generation projects in the 1930’s and 40’s, and these are the ones that are most desirable for appropriation today. After World War II whites still outnumbered blacks both in inner cities, and in government projects, but this was soon to change.


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Q&A

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What are public housing projects called in the United Kingdom?

In the United Kingdom, public housing projects are called just that, public housing projects. These housing projects are available to support those who are without housing and are on welfare.