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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Public housing ought to be for the public. One of the strangest developments after Hurricane Katrina was the closing and fencing of public housing developments. These multistory buildings sometimes had flood damage in the lower floors, but upper floors escaped with relatively little damage. Upper levels of two-story or three-story apartment buildings could have been partially rehabilitated with relative ease, leaving time to finish the rehabilitation of the lower floors as additional residents could find jobs and return. Instead, the powers-that-be chose to lock the gates on public housing, assist homeowners and not renters, and waste the taxpayers' investments at a time when they are greatly needed.

Colorofchange.org is addressing this issue by supporting U.S. Senate action on HR 1227, which would fund repair and opening of minimally damaged public housing units. The quotation below is partly written by colorofchange.org (first two paragraphs) and partly personalized by me. It is an important concern for New Orleans. Some people clearly do not want the low-income residents to return. That makes no sense in a hospitality and service oriented economy like New Orleans. Home ownership is a goal many of us want to pursue through groups such as Habitat for Humanity, but in the meantime, renters need a decent place to live.

Dear Senators Vitter and Landrieu,

Last month the House of Representatives passed HR 1227--the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007. It promises to reopen desperately needed public housing units and ensure that there is no loss of affordable public housing in New Orleans. HR 1227's passage is critical if the idea that all New Orleanians, regardless of race or class, are welcomed home is to be meaningful.

Now that the bill is in the Senate, your leadership is critical. Several senators are behind the bill, but they have said that without the senators from Louisiana in the lead, the bill will go nowhere. As a concerned American, I’m asking that you show leadership and urge the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to take up HR 1227, immediately.

I have been to the Central City to assist pastors such as Rev. Aldon Cotton of Jerusalem Baptist Church, Rev. Marvin Turner of Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Donald Boutte of St. John's Missionary Baptist Church, and Rev. Sam Johnson of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church No. 2. I have seen the need for housing, and I have seen the empty housing units. This is a great waste of the taxpayers' investment in that property and those housing units. Low-income renters need a place to stay in New Orleans that is not trashy and flood-damaged. This bill could go far in helping to meet that need. Recovery in New Orleans can't happen without recovery for everyone.

Please support immediate Senate action on HR 1227.

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