New Orleans is America’s incarceration leader, meaning it also leads the nation in families impacted by criminal convictions. Our city has invested in prison cells rather than proper responses to homelessness, addiction, mental illness, unemployment, and poor education. We have invested in one form of subsidized housing, cages, above all others. And we have intentionally barred masses of people from accessing housing, employment, and education after conviction, whether reentering from incarceration and even when merely sentenced to probation.
Current and former public housing residents shared stories of not being able to go back home to their families again. Impacted people came together through two grassroots organizations, VOTE and Stand With Dignity, and wrote a policy for HANO. Three years later, we continue to advocate for a clear and just policy around eligibility for public and section 8 housing for people with criminal records. We have been joined by a wide spectrum of people and local and national organizations.
Click Here to Sign the Petition:
We, the undersigned, call on HANO to: (1) pass the proposed policy, allowing families to be reunited when living in public housing or receiving vouchers and (2) make changes proposed by community members, making the criminal background policy mandatory on all owners and managers of public housing, granting HANO ultimate authority over 3rd party managers’ decisions to deny people housing, and requiring public reporting of all denials.
Affordable housing is a struggle for all people in New Orleans. However, communities of Color are hit hardest by the choice to invest in police, prosecutors and prisons rather than schools, jobs, and health care. We call on HANO to be part of the cultural shift to unify and elevate our city.
Unfortunately the waiting lists for public housing and vouchers are in the tens of thousands, in a city that has the highest percentage of personal income going to housing. It may be convenient for HANO that some people don't even try getting on the waiting list, as that would only put more pressure on them to, in turn, pressure the government for additional support. However, that convenience comes at a cost to our city, where tens of thousands of people are living in New Orleans with criminal records. People cannot be simply kicked down the river, and we will all sink or swim together.
Find out more about the struggle to end divisive public housing in New Orleans and nationally.