Last week, GNOFHAC’s Executive Director Cashauna Hill submitted a letter to the New Orleans City Council and Mayor documenting coded racism and double standards present in the opposition to a proposed mixed-income development in the Bywater neighborhood at 4100 Royal St. Without a vote from the Council in support of a zoning change on Thursday, May 23rd, the development and the 82 affordable apartments it will bring to the gentrified neighborhood will die.
The letter suggests that failure to approve the proposed development could have the effect of further entrenching segregation in an increasingly white and exclusive neighborhood, and would possibly violate the Fair Housing Act.
The letter points out that opponents of the development, including Neighbors First for Bywater (NFB), have left a detailed record showing that at least some of the opposition to the proposed plans for the site are driven by unlawful racial animus and is driven by race-based stereotyping. At public meetings and in written comments, many opponents have suggested the development will bring drug dealing, “prostitution,” “become a ghetto,” and “destroy [the neighborhood],” while arguing to leave the site a vacant lot or turn it into a dog park.
The Architectural Review Committee (ARC) of the HDLC similarly suggested the density of the development would “foster neighborhood problems,” and “radiate dysfunction and blight.”
Despite the opposition ostensibly focusing on the density and height of the development, the letter also notes that the ARC publicly supported development of the Saxony, a luxury condominium development that is one story higher and more dense than the proposed development at the Royal Street site. The Saxony—only three blocks from the proposed mixed-income development—was built on half a city block, is five stories, and holds 75 units; while the Royal St. development contemplates four stories and 136 units spread out over an entire city block.
“The opposition to this project is clearly utilizing a double standard—supporting half million dollar condos that will disproportionately serve wealthy white people—while opposing less dense affordable housing that will create space for some of the African Americans who have been pushed out of this neighborhood to return,” said Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. You can read the full letter here.