I read this at The Norla Blog and then followed their link to The Times.
The Police Jury was discussing a program created with the federal stimulus package that would rebuild neighborhoods across America that have virtually been emptied by foreclosures and poverty. The Housing Authority of Bossier City is applying for at least $2.5 million in those federal funds. The authority or a nonprofit organization administered by it would use the money to rebuild houses and sell some of them.
Only one strip of Bossier Parish is blighted enough for this project — the area north of Highway 80 as it comes into Bossier City from Hamilton Road to the Red River.
Sounds good to me. Take a neighborhood that has become slum infested, rebuild some of the houses and sell them to worthy people.
Police Jury member Wanda Bennett, however, sees danger.
"We don't need to encourage low-income housing."
The low-income housing is already there. What is being proposed would improve it.
"It's very unpopular to do what I am doing right now, talking about it ... but one of the reasons Bossier Parish is enjoying such a good life right now is because we don't have the groups of lower socioeconomic people."
Well, yes we do. Who do you think lives in the area in question? I haven't seen anyone selling their houses in Stonebridge to get down to Hamilton Road lately. The point of the project is to improve on what already exists.
As The Norla Blog points out, " the issue isn’t the stereotypical housing project. My understanding is that these are single family homes, there are rigorous ownership requirements and even close supervision and assistance for residents. Bennett, as an elected official, ought to do her homework before making decisions."
I'm not endorsing or trashing the stimulus package. That is another subject. We realize that it pains Mayor Walker, who said earlier this week that he has 'reservations' about the stimulus. It probably caused him a lot of grief as he signed application after application to ensure that the city gets all that it can.
For the life of me, I can't follow the reasoning. Well, that's not entirely true. I grew up in segregated Bossier Parish. I know who the 'groups of lower socioeconomic people' are. Members of the Police Jury wouldn't dare get more specific in public, but we get the reference, just as everyone else does. I get the reference, but I don't follow the reasoning. I recognize the fear that is struck in every Bossierite's heart as they contemplate the influx of large numbers of blacks from Shreveport into Bossier to, god forbid, buy a house. I just don't believe that these housing improvements will be the trigger, and I do believe that it will benefit the people currently living in the neighborhood.
Let's take another look at it.