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Amnesty International: Human Rights Organizations Call for Immediate Halt to Pending Demolition of 3,000 Units of New Orleans Public Housing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 21, 2007
1:37 PM

CONTACT: Amnesty International
Jared Feuer, 404-876-5661 x14
Or Tiffany Gardner, 212-253-1771

 
Human Rights Organizations Call for Immediate Halt to Pending Demolition of 3,000 Units of New Orleans Public Housing
 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - November 21 - More than 40 human rights organizations today decried the scheduled demolition of 3,000 public housing units in New Orleans. The groups have issued a letter to U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, urging her continued leadership on behalf of public housing residents by finalizing dates for nationwide congressional hearings. The letter, part of a national campaign for passage of the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act, was also sent to Louisiana Senator David Vitter and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson.

"To demolish affordable housing without sufficient remaining low-income housing stock is not only irresponsible, but a violation of international human rights standards," said Jared Feuer, southern regional director of Amnesty International USA.

In their letter, the organizations note the bleak situation facing public housing across the nation, most prominently represented by the imminent demolition of 3,000 public housing units in New Orleans despite conflicting expert findings that the units are sound. In preparation for demolition, contractors have begun emptying apartments and discarding the personal property of residents without their knowledge or consent, including photographs, letters and social security cards.

"Every moment we fail to act is another unit demolished, another grandmother evicted, or another child who finds him or herself doing homework in a shelter. Our nation and human rights principles have long recognized the right to housing, and we call on our public leaders to take on this potent issue," said Catherine Albisa, executive director of the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (NESRI).

According to international human rights standards, governments must provide specific safeguards with respect to housing for those who have been internally displaced by disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement mandate that host governments facilitate the voluntary return of the displaced to their homes or places of habitual residence in safety and with dignity.

The letter to Representative Waters is here.

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