WASHINGTON - January 6 - ACORN and a coalition of advocacy groups claimed another victory today in their fight to halt the demolition of property the city of New Orleans has deemed unsalvageable. Judge Martin Feldman set another court hearing for January 19 to give himself more time to determine the city’s authority and how the rights of the homeowners should factor in the decision.
The lawsuit, Kirk v. City of New Orleans, was filed on behalf of the residents of the 9th Ward and includes several petitioners and ACORN community allies. One petitioner acknowledged “the restraining order was a start, but it was temporary.” Homeowner and ACORN member Greta Gladney said she never wanted a court fight, but she did want an opportunity to save her home.
Bill Quigley, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, argues the city’s plan has failed to follow proper procedure such as notifying homeowners and providing compensation. “He [Feldman] said nobody’s homes would be destroyed until he figures out what the Constitution requires in terms of notice opportunity to be heard and administration hearings,” Quigley said.
Homeowners were neither included in the decision nor properly notified that their homes were slated for demolition. Quigley and the petitioners are hopeful that the city will work with affected residents to ensure an equitable solution to the issues faced.
This struggle is nothing new for community activists who secured similar pre-Katrina victories for the working poor of New Orleans. “We have been fighting the fight for fair and affordable housing for a long time,” said Beulah Labostrie, president of LA ACORN. “Now, we need some kind of fair treatment, in order for people to be able to return to their homes. This victory in court is the start.”
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, works in more than 75 cities across the United States to improve housing conditions for the economically disadvantaged, increase community safety, secure living wages for all workers and improve the quality of local schools.