New Orleans Dumps FEMA Trailers—and Maybe the People in Them

Condita Duplessis hugs granddaughter Jalinh Vasquez Barthelemy outside their FEMA trailer. Photo: Getty Images/Mario Tama

by Julianne Hing, Colorlines.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered on his promise to shut down the remaining FEMA trailers in the city, though not in the way struggling residents would have hoped. As of Jan. 1, New Orleans residents still living in FEMA trailers parked on their property face fines of up to $500 every day they remain in the government-provided housing units. Residents received notice days before Christmas, the AP reported.

It doesn’t mean the city will help people work out housing alternatives for themselves. According to the AP, city officials said they’d make exceptions for “that little old lady who has no place and no money,” as New Orleans’ deputy chief administrative officer Ann Duplessis described it, but that, “People have to assume some responsibility for their decision.”

The city hopes the last of the trailers will be gone over the next three months, the same time frame Landrieu set to deal with 10,000 other blighted buildings in the city. The FEMA trailer closures are part of Landrieu’s aggressive anti-blight program, which he kicked off after winning his chance to lead the city last year. “The first thing you have to do is have very strict enforcement, which we did not have in the city,” Landrieu said on New Orleans’ WWLTV’s morning news program back in November. “So we’ve just kinda let people get by. We’re not going to do that anymore.” 

Those who don’t comply could see their property “moved back into commerce,” Landrieu said at the time.

With these final FEMA eviction notices, Landrieu sends the message that he’s determined to beautify the city, if not address housing accessibility issues for people who most need help.

“The blight eradication program, if not done correctly, can become a poor-person eradication program,” Lance Hill, the executive director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research, told the AP.

Read the rest of the article from Colorlines.