New Orleans Wants People Out of Housing Projects Before Demolition

The city's public housing agency plans to ask a judge to bar anyone from entering projects without permission and will file claims against some who are trying to avert the buildings' demolition.

Attorneys for the Housing Authority of New Orleans e-mailed notice of their plans on Saturday to an attorney for tenants of the St. Bernard Housing Development. A handful of residents there joined hundreds of protesters for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day cleanup of the development.

The agency plans to file illegal entry and property damage claims and ask U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle to keep anyone from going into any of the city's housing projects without approval, according to the notice.

Rachel Wisdom, an attorney for housing authority, referred a request for comment to agency spokesman Adonis Expose, who does not have a listed number in New Orleans.

Bill Quigley, a lawyer for the tenants, said the cleanup has continued since Jan. 15 and did not believe a judge would stop people from cleaning their own apartments.

"I really think maybe HUD and HANO are afraid that the residents are showing that all these apartments are livable," he said.

The housing authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has run New Orleans' public housing since 2002, say damage from Hurricane Katrina has left thousands of apartments in housing projects unsafe. The agencies have approved plans to demolish the city's four largest public housing complexes and other smaller sites.