Mission to New Orleans - Advisory Group on Forced Evictions

Regions: North America, United States

Tags: development induced forced displacement, forced evictions, homelessness, hr2housing, Katrina, nesri, public housing, UN

Since 2005, New Orleans residents – particularly in low-income communities – have been fighting against forced evictions resulting from the city’s rebuilding plans. As part of the city’s overall development approach, which favors private sector interests over the interests of low-income residents, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) has demolished thousands of public housing units without regard for residents' human right to housing and denying them the chance to participate in the development process.

In response to this, and at the request of local activists, between July 26th and July 31st 2009, the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE), an independent international group that advises the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, is conducting a fact-finding mission to New Orleans, to investigate the city’s continuing forced eviction issues. The issues that will be addressed range from the destruction of public housing to the lack of adequate rebuilding or rental assistance at either the federal or local level which has effectively left thousands of people homeless since the storm, to new plans to evict residents who have rebuilt in favor of large development schemes.

This page will be documenting the AGFE mission with a series of videos featuring testimonies from affected local residents and the groups involved in coordinating the mission.

Download this factsheet to learn more about AGFE's Mission, and this schedule to see who they're meeting.

THURSDAY: AGFE to New Orleans Day 5 - DC meetings

Eric Tars, Human Rights Program Director at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, reports from DC on visits with federal officials, including Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the Housing & Community Opportunity Subcommittee, with the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions mission, July 30, 2009.



Watch the previous vlogs by following these links:  

WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY: AGFE to New Orleans, Days 3 & 4 - Public Housing & City Officials - Eric Tars reports on the visits to public housing and with city public officials for the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions on July 29-30 2009.


TUESDAY: Day 2 AGFE to New Orleans - Charity Hospital and Mid-City Visits - Eric Tars reports on the second half of the July 28, 2009 site visits of the international Advisory Group on Forced Evictions, to the Mid-City area of New Orleans, where hundreds of residents are threatened with imminent eviction due to plans to construct a massive hospital complex that government studies have shown is unnecessary and disregards the needs of the community.

MONDAY: Day 2 AGFE to New Orleans - Homeless Site Visits - Eric Tars reports from two squatters settlements in New Orleans about homelessness since Hurricane Katrina as part of the international Advisory Group on Forced Evictions visit.

SUNDAY, Part 2: New Orleans Town Hall Meeting Wrap Up - Eric Tars reports from the town hall meeting with New Orleans advocates and residents for the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions [July 26, 2009].

SUNDAY, Part 1: Setting the Stage for the Advisory Group Visit - Eric Tars, on his way to New Orleans for the AGFE visit, provides additional background information on the origins of the mission and some of the housing rights violations that have occurred.

SATURDAY: Forced Evictions - Public Housing Residents Speak Out: In this video by the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), two residents of public housing in New Orleans talk about their recent efforts to save public housing. 


FRIDAY: Preparing for New Orleans - Eric Tars explains the background to the AGFE mission, and gives a preview of what he'll be vlogging about throughout the week of 27th July.


So what is the Human Right to Housing, and what are the actual provisions in human rights law that guarantee this right? Here's an overview from NESRI:

The right to housing guarantees the right to live in security, peace and dignity. This right must be provided to all persons irrespective of income or access to economic resources, and the housing provided must be adequate, meaning 'adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, ... adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location.'

The right to housing is guaranteed in human rights declarations and treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man.

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care." - Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Excerpted from NESRI's Human Right to Housing Info Sheet no. 1.  See also NESRI's factsheet on the Human Right to Development.


"Coming Home": A clip of this forthcoming documentary about the demolition of public housing in New Orleans, featuring Mayday NOLA.

HUD Secretary Donovan Denies Community Participation: A brief video from Mayday New Orleans about trying to reach HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan when he visited New Orleans. Not only does this second video underscore how public housing residents have been denied their right to participation, but it also inspired a similar video from a housing advocacy organization in North Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Further links:

NOTE: This post is a product of NLCHP and NESRI, with the assistance of WITNESS, and not affiliated with AGFE or UN-HABITAT


I agree

It really does look like that. With so many people left homeless and still without home, or with very basic arrangements you can hardly call homes, it would be nice to see the government trying to help the people first. On the other hand, if they help businesses first, they'll get some much needed money from the taxes and will be able to use that money towards helping the poor. Too bad it doesn't usually work that way.


Looks like they're trying to rebuild the city on top of the poor. First decide what you are going to do with people that don't have anywhere to go before you start trying to rebuild the city.