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Fair Housing and the Disability Rights Movement

Posted on 25. Apr, 2018 by

Yoshiko and Justin Dart lead march. Photo credit: Tom Olin. Source: www.historybyzim.com/2013/09/capitol-crawl-americans-with-disabilities-act-of-1990/

There are 56.7 million Americans with disabilities.  People with disabilities are our neighbors, our loved ones, and our family members and just like everyone else they deserve to lead healthy, happy lives free from discrimination. There are many civil rights laws that protect the 19% of the US population living with a disability today, and we wouldn’t have those protections were it not for the tireless work of the disability rights movement.

All marginalized groups in the U.S. have had to fight for their civil rights and the fight for disability rights is no exception. Disability activists have long fought for equal access and against segregation, isolation and abuse. The 1970s saw a surge of organizing, with activists mobilized into self-advocacy groups, such as DREDF (Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund), ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transportation, later changed to Americans Disabled Attendant Programs Today), and the CIL (Center for Independent Living). Activists employed a variety of tactics from legislative advocacy and bringing lawsuits to direct actions such as the 25 day takeover of a federal building in San Francisco, blocking intersections to protest the lack of accessible public transportation, and the “Capitol Crawl” when more than 60 activists left their wheelchairs and mobility devices to climb the 83 steps to the U.S. Capitol Building to demand the passage of the ADA.

Organizers were fighting to pass – and then pushing to enforce – landmark laws such as Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which bans disability discrimination in any federally funded program. In 1988, a broad-based coalition succeeded in amending the Fair Housing Act to protect people with disabilities, outlawing discrimination based on disability and requiring that reasonable modifications and accommodations be granted and that new multi-family housing be built to certain accessibility standards. Finally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations and government services, was passed in 1990.

Despite the legal protections now in place for people with disabilities in housing, discrimination is still pervasive.  According to the National Fair Housing Alliance, 55% of all Fair Housing complaints in 2017 were on the basis of disability. If you think you’ve witnessed or experienced discrimination in any form by a landlord, property manager, realtor, mortgage officer or other housing provider, call the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center at 877-445-2100. Help is free and confidential.

Red Lines and Keep Out Signs: 300 Years of Discrimination, Divestment & Displacement In New Orleans

Posted on 24. Apr, 2018 by

Amidst the excitement of celebrating New Orleans’ tricentennial, GNOFHAC is taking a look at 300 years of housing policy and housing segregation in New Orleans.

New Orleans is a special place that is rich with culture and tradition but, like many cities in the United States, New Orleans also has deep racial divides. The Data Center’s new article, “Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk,” lays out how the segregation that we see today is rooted in discriminatory housing policies and practices that are as old as the city.

From only allowing wealthy white settlers to build above sea level (therefore denying African American communities access to housing that doesn’t face environmental risk), to racially discriminatory zoning policies, to restrictive covenants that stated in the deeds for homes that they could only be sold to white families, New Orleans’ history helps us understand the persistence of housing segregation today.

Policy decisions made during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina further deepened these inequalities. New Orleans had a unique opportunity to reverse many of the long-standing patterns of residential racial segregation using the billions of recovery dollars the city received to rebuild. However, instead local, state and federal policy makers chose policies that “repeated or amplified existing patterns of separation and inequality.” One such example was the Road Home program which based grant amounts on pre-storm market value rather than the actual cost to rebuild. As a result, residents in majority white, wealthier neighborhoods were able rebuild while African American homeowners with lower property values found it difficult to return home.

Now, as we welcome a new city council and mayor to office, we must continue to push for policies that say no to segregation and encourage inclusion.

To learn more, join GNOFHAC for a panel discussion about the findings of the new Data Center report, Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk, on April 26th from 6-8pm at Propeller Incubator, 4035 Washington Ave.

Sex Discrimination and the Fair Housing Act

Posted on 22. Apr, 2018 by

The second wave of the Women’s Movement gained significant traction in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Activists fought on multiple fronts, including for legal equality based on sex. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 made sex-based discrimination unlawful in employment and education, respectively. These two laws influenced the eventual inclusion of sex in the protections guaranteed by the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

When the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was originally passed, it prohibited discrimination in all housing transactions based on race, color, religion, and national origin. It was not until 1974 that sex was added to the list of protected classes. Before then, sex discrimination was widespread in rentals, sales, mortgage lending and other transactions.

Despite legal protections, however, sex discrimination continues. Banks have been found to deny mortgage applications from home-buyers who are on maternity leave based on assumptions about the borrowers’ plans and future income. This type of discrimination is not only illegal under the Fair Housing Act, but also under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Predatory loans, those that are designed to fail, are also most frequently targeted at women of color.

If you believe that you or someone you know has experienced discrimination, you can file a complaint here or call GNOFHAC at (877) 445-2100 for free and confidential help.

National Insurer Settles Case Alleging Discrimination Against Housing Choice Voucher Participants

Posted on 19. Apr, 2018 by

New Orleans—National insurer Covington Special Insurance Company (Covington) has agreed to settle a federal housing discrimination lawsuit filed by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and a local landlord. The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana in September 2017, alleged that Covington discriminated on the basis of race, sex, and familial status by denying liability insurance to New Orleans landlords who accept tenants utilizing Housing Choice Vouchers (informally known as “Section 8” vouchers). 

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program provides housing subsidies to low-income families seeking housing in the private rental market. The complaint alleged that the Covington’s policy had the effect of making it harder for HCV households—who are disproportionately African American, female-headed, and families with children—to access housing. The complaint also alleged that the insurer’s discriminatory policies disproportionately affected predominately African-American neighborhoods in New Orleans, where HCV households are highly concentrated. 

GNOFHAC and Dr. Andre Baugh were plaintiffs in the litigation. The litigation arose after Covington Specialty Insurance Company canceled Dr. Baugh’s liability policy because he disclosed that HCV families occupied five of his eight rental units. A local agent explained to Dr. Baugh that Covington was “not in the business of doing Section 8.” Covington is based in New Hampshire and operates as a subsidiary the Alleghany Corporation, a national publicly traded investment company with a focus on property and casualty insurance. After finally securing insurance from another insurer at a higher rate, Dr. Baugh contacted GNOFHAC, which undertook significant public education and outreach efforts to counteract the insurers’ discriminatory policies.

The complaint alleged that Covington’s discriminatory policy was based on stereotypes about voucher holders, rather than any particular risk analysis. Despite such negative stereotypes, New Orleans data shows HCV households are far less transient than market-rate renters. According to U.S. Census and HUD data, 22% of all New Orleans renter households moved in the last year compared to only 7% of HCV families, who stay in their units for an average of seven years.

As a result of the settlement, Covington will stop considering individuals’ source of income when determining pricing or eligibility for property or commercial liability insurance sold to owners of private rental properties. In addition, Covington will no longer ask owners whether they rent to HCV households. Covington agreed to pay $160,000 to compensate plaintiffs for their damages and attorneys fees. 

“Stereotypes and assumptions are simply not a valid reason to perpetuate segregation or deny families housing,” said GNOFHAC Executive Director, Cashauna Hill. “We commend Dr. Baugh for coming forward with this complaint and encourage anyone else who suspects they may have been a victim of housing discrimination to contact the Fair Housing Action Center.”

Plaintiffs separately reached a settlement with Covington’s local broker, Hull & Company, which issued and administered Dr. Baugh’s policy with Covington.

The Plaintiffs were represented by Relman Dane and Colfax PLLC, GNOFHAC’s Legal Director, Elizabeth Owen, and Galen Hair of Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki.

New Database Reveals an American Eviction Crisis

Posted on 19. Apr, 2018 by

San Francisco has passed laws to help teachers and families with school-aged children avoid evictions during the school year.

GNOFHAC fights for fair, affordable housing for all. Most people can get behind a mission like this – who doesn’t think that people and families should have access to housing they can pay for without breaking the bank, in safe neighborhoods with amenities like good schools and supermarkets that sell fresh food? The unfortunate reality, however, is that many people don’t have access to affordable housing at all, let alone housing in areas that provide opportunities for their families. More than twenty percent of Americans spend more than half of their monthly income on rent and utilities, with a quarter of those families spending more than seventy percent of their income on housing costs.

When a large portion of an individual’s or family’s income is allocated to housing, any additional, unplanned costs (like fixing a broken-down car or going to the hospital) can be devastating. Those unable to pay their rent are often evicted, a process which can have spiraling consequences: children must move schools; parents lose their jobs and face challenges applying for new ones without a permanent address; families lose access to food stamps and health benefits when they no longer reside at the address these notices are sent to.  

In short, while poverty is a common cause of evictions, evictions are also a cause of poverty, creating a feedback loop that can be almost impossible to escape.

A new database from Princeton University called the Eviction Lab, compiles the first ever public dataset of evictions in America going back to 2000, illustrating through numbers, and interactive graphs how America is facing an eviction crisis. Sociologist Matthew Desmond estimates that 2.3 million evictions were filed in 2016 at a rate of four per minute. In Louisiana, where the eviction rate clocks in at 2.54% (0.3% above the national average), almost 36 evictions happen per day. While eviction rates in New Orleans are below the national average, they jump to 5.49% in Slidell and 6.45% in Baton Rouge, which is ranked 19th nationally in terms of evictions.

When families are evicted, no one wins. In order to reduce the number of evictions in the United States, policy makers should make affordable housing a priority. If you’d like to learn more about this issue, check out the Eviction Lab website and Matthew Desmond’s revealing book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

Immigration Status and the Fair Housing Act: What You Need to Know

Posted on 17. Apr, 2018 by

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 protects people from discrimination when they look to buy, rent, or secure financing for housing. The FHA prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children. The FHA applies to everyone in the United States, regardless of their immigration status. If a landlord refuses to rent to someone, charges a higher price, or offers different terms on a mortgage because that person belongs to one of those protected groups, that is illegal discrimination regardless of immigration status. It is also illegal to request additional documents from a person based on their race, national origin, or membership in another protected group. This means that a landlord can request a credit check on potential tenants to make sure they’ll be able to pay rent, but only if they perform that check on every potential tenant, not just ones of a particular race or gender. Similarly, landlords are within their rights to ask for identity related documents, but only if they are requesting them from all applicants.

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination and you are undocumented, you should not hesitate to file a fair housing complaint. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (the body at the HUD which deals with issues related to the FHA) will not ask about or disclose your immigration status, and neither will the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.

What happens if a landlord or neighbor is threatening to report you, a family member, or a friend to ICE in the event that you file a fair housing complaint? Unfortunately, this is where things can get more complicated. It is illegal to threaten or interfere with a person’s exercise of their FHA rights, so the person doing the threatening is breaking the law. However, when immigration authorities are involved, a certain level of apprehension is certainly justifiable.

According to a memorandum by former ICE Director John Morton in 2011, it is “against ICE policy to remove individuals in the midst of a legitimate effort to protect their civil rights or civil liberties” and “to avoid deterring individuals from reporting crimes and from pursuing actions to protect their civil rights, ICE officers, special agents, and attorneys are reminded to exercise all appropriate discretion on a case-by-case basis when making detention and enforcement decisions in the case of victims of crime, witnesses to crime, and individuals pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints.” What this means is that if you are an undocumented victim of a crime, you should be protected from deportation or other legal action taken against you if you report that crime, as long as you yourself don’t have a criminal history.

In today’s political climate regarding immigration, it can be difficult to know how strictly ICE will stick to this policy on a case by case basis. If you come in contact with ICE as a result of reporting an FHA violation, it is important to be clear that you are attempting to protect your civil rights.  Regardless of your immigration status, please do not hesitate to report fair housing violations to GNOFHAC when you see them.

Posted on 16. Apr, 2018 by

Did you buy a home in the last 10 years in the Greater New Orleans area?

What do you know about your hazard insurance coverage?

What were you told about the hazards that your new home faces?

If you are over 18 years of age, we would like to hear about your experiences with property and hazard insurance, and your home’s risk disclosures. Please join a one-time discussion group on Saturday, May 12, hosted by The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP).

Participation DETAILS:

  • 1.5 hour discussion, located nearby
  • You will receive $25 cash for participation
  • Participation is voluntary. You may choose to withdraw or refuse to answer any questions that you are not comfortable with. Your participation will not affect any service you may or can receive from partners or others, such as insurance companies.
  • Your name and shared comments will be kept confidential by project staff.
  • Participation is limited to the first 14 people per session.
  • Only one person per household is eligible to participate.
  • The session will be conducted by staff from the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC, in coordination with the two local organizations—none of whom are affiliated with any builders, insurance company, or public agency.
  • This work is funded by the National Academy of Sciences’ Gulf Research Program, and statements you make during the discussion will be used to develop a survey of other Greater New Orleans residents.

TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT AND RECEIVE DETAILS,
PLEASE CALL 1 (504) 507-9909
or email HomeResilience@urban.org

Redlining and the Racial Wealth Gap

Posted on 16. Apr, 2018 by

As we reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, it is important to remember how present day segregation and inequality were created and maintained by generations of discriminatory housing policies.  One of the most significant was redlining, a practice where banks and insurance companies literally drew red lines around neighborhoods that were considered an unsafe investment, using racially explicit policies that targeted African-American neighborhoods and other communities of color. Redlining maps gave different color grades to each neighborhood: green being the “best;” blue–“still desirable,” yellow–“definitely declining,”, and red–“hazardous.”

Image: Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, Digital Scholarship Lab, University of Richmond. To explore an interactive map of your neighborhood, check out Mapping Inequality from Richmond University’s Digital Scholarship Lab.

After World War I, the practice of redlining was adopted by the federal government, and it became even more damaging and widespread. It was government policy to deny African-Americans home loans and to actively enforce segregation: “incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same communities,” stated the Underwriting Manual of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).


Photo Source: Trinity College Epress

Redlining was enforced not just by government policy, but also through industry practices. From 1924-1950, Article 34 of The Realtor Code of Ethics read, “A Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.” Individual homeowners were at times complicit themselves. In many cases, restrictive covenants were written into the deeds of homes, stating that they could not be sold to anyone who was not “of the Caucasian race.” As a result of all of these actions, less than two percent of all FHA mortgages went to non-white families.

These policies not only prevented African-Americans from buying homes till 1968, it set up the racial wealth gap we see today: Median white wealth is twelve times higher than median black wealth, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In the article, Janelle Jones argues that “Overall, housing equity makes up about two-thirds of all wealth for the typical (median) household. In short, for median families, the racial wealth gap is primarily a housing wealth gap. This is no accident.” While white families accumulated wealth through homeownership, African-American families didn’t have the opportunity to invest and build equity in a home, making it harder for their children and grandchildren to buy homes.

In his powerful article, “The Case for Reparations,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that “when the mid-20th-century white homeowner claimed that the presence of a Bill and Daisy Myers decreased his property value, he was not merely engaging in racist dogma—he was accurately observing the impact of federal policy on market prices. Redlining destroyed the possibility of investment wherever black people lived.”

A recent study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that neighborhoods marked by the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation as “hazardous” have lower incomes, more minorities and signs of gentrification.

While redlining has been illegal since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, it still occurs today. GNOFHAC, along with the Fair Housing Alliance and 18 other civil rights organizations, recently filed a federal lawsuit against Deutsche Bank for neglecting foreclosed homes in communities of color. While the bank owns properties in both predominately white communities as well as African-American communities, photographs show they neglected to maintain the bank-owned homes in communities of color, resulting in these homes having overgrown grass and weeds, unlocked doors and windows, broken doors and windows, dead animals decaying, and trash and debris left in yards, while homes in white neighborhoods were kept free of debris and trash and had secured windows and doors.

“The neglected appearance of Deutsche Bank-owned homes in middle- and working-class neighborhoods of color destroys the homes’ curb appeal for prospective homebuyers and invites vandalism because the homes appear to be abandoned. Additionally, the blight created by Deutsche Bank/Ocwen/Altisource results in a decline in home values for African American and Latino families who live next door or nearby, deepening the racial wealth gap and inequality in America,” states GNOFHAC’s News Release.

In another recent example of redlining, The Department of Housing and Urban Development filed charges on behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance (FHA) in January 2017, accusing Bank of America and two of its employees of lending discrimination. The National Fair Housing Alliance conducted mystery shopper tests with white and Latino applicants both pretending to be prospective mortgage borrowers in South Carolina. The NFHA investigation found that the Latino applicants were consistently given inferior loan options compared to the white applicants, and therefore Bank of America was discriminating based on national origin, one of the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. The case settled in May 2017, with Bank of America agreeing to contribute more than $400,000 to support fair housing in South Carolina.

While 50 years have passed since redlining and all forms of housing discrimination were made illegal under the Fair Housing Act, the effects of discriminatory housing practices persist today. As the examples above show, redlining still occurs and helps to further segregation and inequality, which is especially damaging when carried out on a large-scale by banks and institutions. If you think you have experienced discrimination by a bank, insurance company, or other housing provider, call the GNO Fair Housing Action Center at (877) 445-2100.

#MeToo at Home: How the Fair Housing Act Protects Against Sexual Harassment

Posted on 13. Apr, 2018 by

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, we have a new understanding of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault and the lasting effects it has on survivors. The#MeToo movement has focused on women who experience sexual harassment and assault in the workplace as well as sexual harassment from strangers in the street.

However, an area that has not received as much attention is the sexual harassment and assault that takes place in the home, from landlords, maintenance workers, property managers, and neighbors. Sexual harassment in housing is pervasive and particularly harmful because when the person harassing you has keys to your home, it takes away your ability to ever feel safe there.

The Fair Housing Act protects against two main types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment. Quid pro quo, or “this for that,” sexual harassment occurs when a housing provider or their employee requires sexual favors in exchange for housing or housing-related transactions like repairs. Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when a housing provider or their employee creates an environment of unwanted, severe, and/or pervasive sexual behavior that negatively affects a tenant.

Annually, tenants file hundreds of cases alleging either or both types of sexual harassment from their housing providers, though it’s likely that this is only a tiny fraction of the number of actual incidents nationwide. As is the case with other types of sexual harassment, most incidents likely go unreported. Though the data is limited, fair housing advocates generally find that women of color, low-income women, undocumented women, women who speak English as a second language, and women escaping domestic violence are all more likely to experience sexual harassment in housing.

In Baltimore, Maryland, 19 women filed a class action lawsuit against the Housing Authority accusing maintenance workers of quid pro quo sexual harassment. The women claimed that maintenance workers would only make repairs if the women performed sex acts and that if the women did not agree, the repairs were not made, which exposed the tenants and their children to health and safety hazards such as mold, extreme temperatures and fire risk. The case was eventually settled for $8 million.

If you are experiencing sexual harassment in housing, the Fair Housing Act protects you and is an important tool to hold the perpetrator accountable. Contact the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center at 504-596-2100 or 877-445-2100. Help is free and confidential.

Environmental Racism in Louisiana

Posted on 12. Apr, 2018 by

Topics like global warming and climate change can sometimes seem ambiguous and hazy – problems of the future whose full impact we can’t currently comprehend. As a result, it can be difficult to know what we as individuals can do in the here and now to protect the environment and the people living in it.

Some impacts of environmental damage are not nearly as nebulous as others, however. Pollution and environmental degradation are impacting people right here, right now, and these impacts tend to affect people of color and poor people disproportionately – a concept known as environmental racism. One well-known example of this is the dirty, lead-ridden water of Flint, Michigan, a city whose residents are mostly black and often poor. Switching Flint’s water source to the Flint River – the act which resulted in Flint’s water crisis – was a cost-cutting measure. Would the crisis in Flint have come about if it were a majority white city? What if it were a wealthy city?

A house lit up for Christmas next to a Murphy Oil Corporation factory in Meraux, Louisiana, a town in Cancer Alley.

Environmental racism isn’t just relegated to water pollution. It can rear its head in a variety of ways, and the state of Louisiana is a big offender. In Louisiana’s Cancer Alley (a stretch of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge which is home to more than 150 plants and refineries), cancer rates jump high above the national average, and the majority of those affected are poor and historically black. The town of Diamond, for example, was founded by survivors of the largest slave revolt in US history in 1811, but its inhabitants had to be relocated by Shell after slogging through decades of exposure to toxic materials. Others, like the towns of Morrisonville and Sunrise that were originally founded by freed slaves hundreds of years ago, were completely bought out by petrochemical corporations, with residents paid to leave to make room for factories.  Residents of this area, who usually don’t have the resources to move out and whose protests are often ignored, can be made sick by the huge amount of toxins released by the petrochemical industry and other factories.

Claiborne just before the construction of the I-10 bridge.

Environmental justice issues don’t have to be centered around health – they affect all facets of people’s lives, including housing. In the 1960s, the I-10 bridge was built over Claiborne Avenue – a street once home to the longest single string of oak trees in the country and lined by well over a hundred businesses in the historically Black New Orleans neighborhood of Treme. After the bridge’s construction, property values were driven down and the number of businesses in the area dropped by about two-thirds. At the time, a similar highway had been proposed to run through the predominantly white French Quarter, but residents were able to prevent it’s construction. However, in the Treme in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, all objections to the I-10 bridge were ignored, with devastating consequences to the neighborhood’s culture and economy.

In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, an entrenched history of housing discrimination means that predominantly Black neighborhoods bore a disproportionate brunt of the impacts of Hurricane Katrina. Since the Civil War, the government, banks, and realtors  “assigned” certain geographic areas to black people – areas which tended to be low-value and flood-prone, and which grew to become modern neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East which were hit heavily by the hurricane. As a result, 53 percent of black residents  reported they lost everything after Katrina, compared to only 19 percent of white residents. Black people were also significantly more likely to have faced life-threatening challenges in the wake of the storm. In the aftermath of Katrina, the Road Home Program was established in order to help New Orleans residents rebuild their homes. Homeowners were allocated grant money based on either their home’s market value or the cost to rebuild, whichever amounted to less. African American homeowners were much more likely to qualify for grants based on their homes’ market values, which often fell dramatically short of covering the cost to rebuild. GNOFHAC sued the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Louisiana Recovery Authority arguing that the Road Home Program discriminated based on race and the case reached a settlement for 62 million dollars. Road Home was successfully amended in 2011, but due to the discriminatory program that lasted six years after the storm, fewer African Americans were able to move back into the city than whites after Katrina.

Protesters in the room during city council vote on New Orleans East Entergy plant.

On March 13th, 2018, New Orleans City Council approved the construction of a $210 million natural gas power plant in a predominantly minority neighborhood and FEMA-designated flood zone in New Orleans East, despite protests from a coalition of New Orleans East residents, community activists, and environmental justice groups. The Entergy plant is meant to prevent power outages, but opponents cite the potentially harmful effects on the environment and public health while pointing out that Entergy’s reliability issues are related to distribution failures, not lack of power, and must be resolved internally – not by simply throwing money at the problem.  Though the plant has been approved, residents have vowed to continue to fight for the health and safety of their neighborhoods and opponents filed a lawsuit Tuesday, alleging that the council violated due process by not considering alternatives to the plant.

To stay up to date with this fight, visit www.nogasplant.com, and follow the plaintiffs in the case, groups that have spent almost two years protesting the idea of a new power plant: Alliance for Affordable Energy, the Sierra Club, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and 350-New Orleans.