Saturday, December 17, 2005

New Orleans Residents Face Eviction From Homes as Rents Skyrocket and Legal Protections Remain Weak

On Democracy Now

"So we think the problem is major, and we took some steps so far to address that problem by actually bringing a suit, declaring that it was unconstitutional for landlords to be utilizing a procedure of notification that existed pre-Katrina that allowed landlords to file for eviction actions and post notices of those eviction actions on people's doors and have a hearing scheduled for them within three days. The concept pre-Katrina being if the person lived there, they would come home within that time, see the notice and be able to get to court, because that's their home. Of course, post-Katrina we have a situation where people have been scattered to all corners of the U.S., and to be utilizing such a procedure as if that is really a mechanism for really providing notice to people of their property being taken and their homes being taken from them was absolutely ludicrous.

So we brought the case, and we actually were able to settle the case, because the Orleans Parish city officials and the Jefferson Parish city officials and FEMA were all in a position, because of pressure being asserted on them from tenants and people all across the U.S. who have been displaced and affected by this tragedy, to do something right. They were feeling that pressure in the courthouse, and they actually came to the table trying to reach some agreement, because they didn't want the case to go to court and have a situation where the whole law was declared unconstitutional.

So we won that case, and we actually got the procedure changed for notifying people of their homes being taken. The procedure now is that if a landlord comes to evict the person from their home, the parish officials have to send a notice out to people at their last known address and also contact FEMA for any updated information on where they're at and if that information is updateable, when they receive that updated information, they have to send notices to people at their updated addresses, and they have to give people 30 days before any hearing can be held. (more)


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