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.