Long-time public housing leader and May Day New Orleans member Sharon Jasper is facing an assault charge and housing voucher termination for her courage to speak out against New Orleans' policies of public housing demolitions and displacement. After her participation in a May 28 demonstration protesting the private Columbia Parc development that replaced St. Bernard public housing and denied many former residents the right to return, Sharon was slapped with an assault charge on a Columbia Parc rental agent and threatened with eviction. Sharon's case is a symbol of the constant threat of eviction faced by all public housing tenants. It's also a part of a disturbing pattern of using eviction to intimidate tenants against exercising their right to expression and organization. A strict set of HUD regulations threatens tenants with eviction or voucher termination for breaking a number of rules around public housing developments, but when it is used to silence resident leaders who choose to organize and speak out, this has a particular chilling effect on democracy. From NOLA to New York, Sharon and all public housing residents and leaders need our sustained support.
For information on how to act now, from signing an online petition to attending a local meeting, see more information on the Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights blog.
Video courtesy of Evan Casper-Futterman.