As part of a NewsHour series on post-Hurricane Katrina housing in New Orleans, Betty Ann Bowser interviewed former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Alphonso Jackson about options for displaced public housing residents.
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BETTY ANN BOWSER:
Mr. Secretary, I'd like to begin to ask you to describe what the federal government's vision of the future of public housing is.
ALPHONSO JACKSON, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: I truly believe that we can no longer begin to build the kind of structures that we've seen in the 30s, 40s, 50s and the late 60s. I think we must integrate people both socially and economically. Because to build again like we did by putting low income people out of sight, out of mind, really creates a serious problem, because they have no incentives to do anything better than what they've seen in their respective communities.
Secondly, almost in every one of those communities that we built in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, they were crime-ridden, drug-ridden environments and I don't think that's very conducive for kids to be brought up in. So my plans for the future are the plans that I implemented when I was running housing authorities in St. Louis, Washington D.C., and Dallas. That is to integrate people both socially and economically into the fabric of that society, to make life much better for them.
BETTY ANN BOWSER:
And how is that working with the mixed income projects?
Not as well as I had wanted it to work, especially in some of the HOPE 6 developments. They have not brought as many low income people back to the developments as I would have hoped they would when we first talked about creating housing opportunities for people everywhere. And that's the name for HOPE, is Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere. And during the process we were really talking somewhere about 30, 40 percent of the residents returning. Most of the developments — of the 75 that have been done, probably at the most 25 to 30 percent have returned. So one of the things that we're going to stress in New Orleans is to make sure that somewhere between 35, 40 percent of the residents who are in good standing have the opportunity to come back. Because if we're going to integrate those developments, both socially and economically, we must have more of the residents back to give them opportunities to better their lives.