N.O. Evictions can be Thwarted thru Organization

As if people in New Orleans haven’t been given enough to deal with, residents now are also faced with eviction. Why are these people victimized? Part of it has to do with weak tenant protection laws in N.O. I never understood how important tentants rights were until I was in college and saw the battles fought by the Ann Arbor Tenants Union to protect people against predatory practices of landlords.

A major problem with regards to housing in N.O. is that many public housing communities have either not been reopened or are largely inaccessable to their current/former residents. That is an issue in and of itself. Are they closed because they are unsafe? Are they closed because new people have been moved in already at 2X/3X the rent? The former is alright. The latter is unacceptable. People could be protected against the unacceptable by organizing. Unionization is a way for the “weak” to gain strength in numbers. If you are “weak” in terms of dollars, you become strong by uniting. What is more valuable to a property owner/manager? 1 person with $1 million, 10 people with $100,000, or 500 people with $20,000? If money is all that talks, this doesn’t matter to them. However, the 500 people are stronger because of the network that they create. They present an opportunity for a property owner/manager to expand far beyond the reach of the network of a single person. This power can be leveraged in negotiations for fair treatment.

My advice to New Orlean’s urban planners is to encourage, even require tenant unionization on the city-wide level, or at least demand each public development to have one. It is in the interest of the citizens to do so. And the job of the government on any level is to act in the best interests of their constituents.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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