|America might be better, but are blacks?|
A homeowner must understand when they purchase a house, they become accountable and responsible for the maintenance of the property, especially if they hope to see it appreciate in value (let alone keep its value).
Not only is the homeowner accountable for the appearance of their home, but the value of the neighborhood is the responsibility of all members of the community if they hope see the long-term value in their respective properties mature (hence, homeowner fees and community standards on the upkeep of yards and appearance of the house).
Which brings us to the Musicians' Village in New Orleans. The Village Voice called this Habitat for Humanity project the, "largest-scale, highest-profile, and biggest-budget rebuilding project to have gotten underway in the eight months post-Katrina."
The great fear that Hurricane Katrina would displace blacks from New Orleans prompted such civic minded (sic) individuals like Harry Connick Jr. to galvanize the community and ensure black musicians had a place to hang their hat in the city, courtesy of accommodations built primarily by white volunteers and paid for via donations from white donors.
These black musicians didn't even have to put in 'sweat equity' to build their homes, instead (in the words of Jim Pate, the executive director of the New Orleans area Habitat for Humanity):
"We'd hope some of our musician partner families could do some of their sweat equity by doing performances or concerts for some of our volunteers."As is true of all Habitat properties, though, three basic criteria were required for residence in the Musicians' Village: Need for Shelter, Ability to Pay, and Willingness to Partner.
|Yes... it was almost entirely white volunteers (and donations from white people) that helped build the Musicians' Village in New Orleans|
What happens in 2013, when one of the residents of the Musicians' Village sees a $2300 estimate from a contractor for general maintenance to their home? [Musicians' Village residents say homes are falling apart,WWLTV.com,9-22-13]
Dozens of New Orleans musicians and their families displaced by Katrina moved into newly built the Upper 9th Ward homes. The partnership with Habitat For Humanity was aimed at keeping our musical culture in the city.
Now some residents say their homes are falling apart.
"We've got a nice cushy neighborhood, but your home is rotting in front of you," said homeowner Rhonda Ford.
Rows of vibrantly painted homes make up the Musicians' Village. The development is where Ford purchased her house back in 2009 and is now locked into a 30-year-mortgage.
The first-time home buyer was a supporter of Habitat for Humanity and its mission to help low-income families get a permanent roof over their head. She has had a change of heart.
"It's still a great cause, but you have to do things right and in order. You cannot put up stuff. It's misuse of people's donations," said Ford, who is frustrated by signs of rotting wood on window trims and her front steps.
In July, she paid more than $300 for a home inspection confirming her biggest fears. She has reached out to Habitat for Humanity only to be told her property is no longer under warranty. Ford says estimates show it will cost around $2,000 to replace the rotten wood.
"Basically for New Orleans the type of wood they use is going to not only make my home rot, but my neighbors in this area and anywhere Habitat built," said Ford.
Neighbors like trumpet player Shamarr Allen are experiencing the same thing.
"It's bad," he said, pointing to his front stairs. "It's like a sponge."
Two years ago, Allen considered building an extension onto his house but was told by contractors that some of the decaying wood had to go. So, the musician says he reached out to the builder.
"I called Habitat and told them that the wood was bad and they changed one board, on one board window. They said they were coming back and never came back and finished the rest of it," said Allen.
Habitat for Humanity says prospective home buyers are required to take classes that include financial fitness and basic upkeep of a home.
"We reiterate to all homeowners, you gotta take care of your house, caulk it, seal it, if you see anything that's not looking at 100 percent right. Look at it and treat it then," said Aleis Tusa with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.
The organization confirms it is familiar with Ford's complaints but defends its building practices.
"All our buildings is to code. We go through the same city inspections that everyone else goes through. Everything we feel is built really well," added Tusa.
Understand why Detroit in 2013, an 83 percent black city, has so much residential blight?
Look no further than the Musicians' Village in New Orleans, a project of Habitat for Humanity, and a perfect example of why Shelley vs. Kraemer was the most destructive Supreme Court decision ever handed down