Desire Development Neighborhood Snapshot
Census 2000 Data Tables: People & Household Characteristics, Housing & Housing Costs, Income & Poverty, Transportation, Employment, Educational Attainment, Immigration & Language, Disabilities, Neighborhood Characteristics
In recent years, many housing developments in New Orleans have undergone massive renovations and redevelopment. The numbers from the 2000 Census for this neighborhood are no longer accurate. Please check with the Housing Authority of New Orleans and the Desire Resident Council for the most current status.
According to a June
2004 personal interview with Resident Council Treasurer, Bonnie Peters,
as of that date 107 new units had been built, 73 were occupied and the
remaining 34 had applications pending. Many former residents had returned.
Three of the original Desire buildings were still standing and occupied
but scheduled to be demolished after residents are relocated. There is
no separate senior facility scheduled for construction because elderly
residents wanted to live among younger residents. Seniors have first floor
apartments some of which have handicapped access.
A little history
In 1949, a new United States Housing Program was begun. Desire was the last project built in the city of New Orleans under Title III of that program. Two elementary schools, Moton and Lockett, were included in the construction.
The total cost of the project was nearly $24 million. The Dunn Elementary School and the Carver Complex (a middle school and a high school) were built to serve the students in the Desire Project in 1958. The development was built on the site of the memorable Hideaway Club where Fats Domino played regular gigs until it was torn down in 1949 to make way for the housing development.
The site picked for the Desire development is completely isolated from the rest of the city. Surrounded by the Industrial Canal, Florida Canal and railroad tracks on all four sides, this isolation hampered residents participation in economic activities in other parts of the city.
To save building costs, Desire's structures were built of wood with a brick veneer. But difficult repairs and high insurance costs for the non-fireproof buildings made these buildings very expensive to maintain. It is said that tenants often waited years for the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) to make repairs to their apartments, plumbing, and light fixtures. Eventually units began to fall apart.
New Orleans Police Department and Desire
The historical relationship between Desire residents and NOPD is long, complex and violent. In 1970 there were two highly-publicized standoffs between police and the Black Panthers (then the National Committee to Combat Fascism) in Desire. The sit-in, confrontation and shoot-out brought much attention to the ills of Desire. In a 2000 interview with Malik Rahim, an activist who was present during the shootouts, he explained:
In the early 1990s, documented problems with police brutality and corruption occurred in the Desire development. Most recently, Community Oriented Policing Squads (COPS) have been located in Desire/Florida, with the 5th Police District reporting a reduction in crime in the area in the late 90s.
HOPE VI grant
In February 1995
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved a HOPE VI
grant to HANO to improve the living environment either through rehabilitation
of the housing or complete redevelopment of the housing. In 1996, HANO
subcontracted to Tulane University a significant portion of the management
of the Desire Development. Tulane was able to assist the community with
building repairs and job placements. Still the audits of the HOPE VI grant
by the Office of the Inspector General of HUD, testimony at the Subcommittee
on Oversight and Investigations of the House of Representatives
Committee on Financial Services hearing on the Housing Authority
of New Orleans, and a recent lawsuit by current and former residents against
HANO for their implementation of the HOPE VI grant, all point to continued
hardships for the residents of Desire.
The development is now being completely redeveloped.
articles & reports related to the Desire Housing Development
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Last modified: December 8, 2006