Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stop NOLA evictions

Common Ground is campaigning to block a "holiday eviction" of 100 families from apartment units it has been rehabilitating in New Orleans:

As you may know, Common Ground has been managing the Woodlands apartment complex for the past five months, with the intent to purchase the property to create cooperative housing, small business cooperatives, social programs and human services offices, all while keeping the lowest rents in the city. During this time CG rehabilitated over 100 units, and formalized rental relationships with signed leases. Through a series of bad faith dealings the former owner, Anthony Reginelli, sold the property to the Johnson Property Group, LLC. Now both are working together to evict the tenants just in time for the holidays.

The tenants are organized and ready to fight. They are planning a host of strategies, from press conferences to direct actions, from formal mediation to court cases. But they need your voice. They need your faxes, calls emails in support, calling for the new owners to do the right thing and work with the tenants to find a mutually beneficial solution.

The next pages contain sample letters detailing the tenants needs and demands, and following those is a contact list. There are two versions of the letter, one for the Johnson Property Group, LLC itself, and another for their business associates. Feel free to use the sample letter, or create your own based on it. If you have business or organization letterhead, that may add extra weight. The crucial aspect is that the residents need your assistance RIGHT NOW.

This can be an extremely effective public pressure campaign, because the new owners have a very good name in human services in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana. The Managing Manager for the Group is Soundra Temple-Johnson, who, along with Collis Temple, Jr. and family, own and operate Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Options as well as the Harmony Center, Inc., both of which offer extensive social services for those in need. They have a conscience, at least a public one, which can be effectively prodded by your letters, and by the opinions of their business associates.

Much of the city's affordable housing stock was rendered uninhabitable by Katrina, and profiteering by landlords and developers is driving a good number of the remaining inhabitants into the streets. Help these families keep a roof over their heads during the holidays by calling, e-mailing or faxing Johnson Properties. See the Common Ground PDF for details or the Woodlands Apartments project page for more information.

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