Here it is eight days later, and my head is still stuck in Easter Sunday.
I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with Debra.
Debra lives across the street. She’s a single mother raising children in difficult circumstances. Her oldest son was murdered in Central City last October. She doesn’t make much money working her job at an Uptown grocery. Often she has to borrow from us. She always pays back, but I worry about her.
As we stood on the street and talked, she said she’d like to go back to school and get a degree. She said she’d like to own her own home some day — the American dream.
She shared some of the particulars of her financial situation. The Housing Authority of New Orleans is paying Debra’s rent under Section 8. The check, which goes directly to the landlord, is for the amount of $1,300 every month.
That’s more than our monthly mortgage payment. Our house is almost as large as the entire fourplex in which Debra’s apartment is located. Right, that’s $1,300 for a somewhat crappy, small, unfurnished apartment in a fourplex. Appliances not included — fridge and stove must be provided by the tenant.
In fact, the apartment is bad enough that Debra is planning to move soon. That makes me sad, because I like Debra, and our neighborhood is so unstable now. Every time we get to know our neighbors, they move. But I digress.
Or do we? According to an Excel spreadsheet on the HUD website, there have been at least 65 closings in New Orleans through the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program. I’m making some phone calls to see if I can chase down any further information.
The ultimate irony is that as I had this conversation with Debra, we were looking at all the vacant, flooded homes surrounding us.
Some days it feels like we are living inside a giant puzzle that no one knows how to fix.