SOS Rallies in Support of Displaced Bayou La Batre Mothers at Safe Harbor : May 22, 2014

9 Jul

SOS Rallies in Support of Displaced Bayou La Batre Mothers at Safe Harbor


Solidarity-with-SafeHarbor-residents

Alabama Fisheries Cooperative: A Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative, is working with Saving OurSelves Movement, a coalition of 40 organizations, to highlight and stop the displacement of residents who are speaking out against injustices against citizens.

The cooperative is hosting a Solidarity Shrimp Boil for Safe Harbor on Thursday, May 22, 2014 3 p.m. at Greater New Hope Baptist Church, 8420 E. Alba Street, in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. At 4 p.m., rally participants will tour Safe Harbor and at 5 p.m. they will present their petitions to the Bayou La Batre City Council meeting.

SOS asks the City of Bayou La Batre and its Mayor, Bret Dungan, to appoint a new and reasonable majority to the property management board at Safe Harbor who will keep the promise made by the city, federal and state governments of affordable housing at Safe Harbor for Katrina Survivors.

Hundreds of people, including single mothers and grandmothers caring for minor children, have struggled with tripled “Rents” and unfair evictions at Safe Harbor — a 100 Home Community Built for Katrina Survivors with $18 million in federal and state funds. Several women and their children are being evicted because they dared to speak out against the increases.

And why do the rents keep going up? The answer is found in CPA and housing coop developer Andrew Danforth 2012 analysis of Safe Harbor’s budget. The report concluded that management “have salaries of $130,000, equal to about 40% of collections, four times what one would expect privately,” and their legal fees “at the current clip of $34,000 are 8-10 times those that might be expected.” Mr. Danforth’s 2012 report showed “rents” could be cut in half. Yet they continue to rise, along with management’s salaries, legal fees, and the consequent rise in residents’ homelessness and heartbreak.

Speakers at the event include:

  • Faya Rose Touré representing SOS, civil rights attorney and education activist, songwriter, and playwright;
  • Benard Simelton, President Alabama NAACP;
  • Ronald Ali, 2nd Vice President Alabama NAACP /Mobile County NAACP President;
  • Captain Sidney Schwartz, 4th Generation Shrimper, Co-Founder Alabama Fisheries Cooperative;
  • Barbara Robbins, Seafood Worker, Co-Founder Alabama Fisheries Cooperative;
  • Barbara Howard, President Tuskegee/Macon County NAACP;
  • Honorable Johnny Ford, Mayor Tuskegee, AL.;
  • Joe Keffer AFL-CIO Alabama Labor Council;
  • Jeffery Jones, Chair Voting Rights Committee of Saving OurSelves; and
  • Frank Barragan, Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

Speakers will also address the Medicaid Expansion Petition Campaign and Rally scheduled for May 31 in Montgomery at which thousands of petitions will be presented to Governor Bentley; and the Campaign to Restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

 

MORE DETAILS

Safe Harbor is a 100 home neighborhood built for Katrina Survivors with $18 million in federal and state funds. Soon after former Mayor Stan Wright’s 2011 federal indictment for defrauding Safe Harbor, rents shot up 250% in one month, and rose to 300% last summer. The current lease between the City and the property manager requires “affordable housing.” State civil rights leaders and local community leaders demand that the City of Bayou La Batre and its property manager at Safe Harbor follow the clear language of their lease to require “affordable housing” according to the mission statement intended by the federal and state agencies who built these homes.

At the Bayou La Batre City Council meeting on July 2013, Landon, age 4 (the child pictured on the front row), said, “Please don’t make me leave my pretty blue house.” Two of the children (the little girl standing in the front row with her sister’s protective hands on her shoulders) and their single mom were evicted a few days later. Other children will now have to leave on April 30,2014, because they can’t afford the “rent” hikes.

“I’m disabled and my home was destroyed by Katrina. I was promised rent-by-income and rent-to-own at Safe Harbor. When the rents tripled last summer I had to leave and have been homeless many times since,” says Ernest Seaman a fifth-generation fisherman who filed a lawsuit against the City of Bayou La Batre and property manager at Safe Harbor for rent-gouging. “Last December, my son and I had to sleep in our car. I refused the $2,800 to ‘settle’ my case and fired the lawyers who peddled it. Lord knows I could use the money, but I’m going to keep fighting for my home and my neighbors’ homes, including those who will be forced out April 30th.”

Barbara Robbins, co-founder of Alabama Fisheries Coop says she is proud that Snows Quarter, Bayou La Batre’s historic African American community, is hosting the Shrimp Boil for Justice.

“We feel Safe Harbor folks’ pain directly. Out of some 100 homes, only four of us received meaningful Katrina rebuilding assistance. We were promised elevation by the former mayor,” she says. “Since Katrina many of our homes flood after a hard rain and we can’t even flush the toilet. My living room floor is rotting. I am afraid my 90 year old mother will fall through any day. Fred Tombar a Senior Advisor in HUD visited my home three years ago and was moved to tears. A few weeks later he brought HUD  Secretary Sean Donavan himself. Last year we voted in a new mayor, but still we have found no justice, in Snows or Safe Harbor. But together we will find it!”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Barbara Robbins at 251 422-2941 or Zack Carter at 334 224-3983 — Organizers for Alabama Fisheries Cooperative: A Multi-Cultural Fisher & Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative.

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Support Alabama Fisheries Coop!

26 Aug

Please click on the following to find out how you can:

Support Social Justice Seafood from the AL Gulf Coast’s Multi-Cultural Fisher & Seafood Worker-Owned coop.

 

Recent Updates

25 Aug

For recent updates on the struggle at Safe Harbor, check out our:

Recent Safe Harbor flyer.

Families at “Safe Harbor” once again facing unjust rent hikes & evictions

13 Jun
After 2 years of no rent hikes, thanks to the strength of our resident organizing efforts, the Safe Harbor management has announced NEW “rent hikes” to the tune of a 23% increase to take affect on August 1st! Facing eviction and homelessness, residents are continuing the fight for accountability. Recently, residents spoke with local news affiliates:
A petition is circulating the neighborhood with residents hoping to get rid of the authority completely. “This is a petition we’re going to present to city hall Thursday night over the rent hikes. We’re going to fight. We’re standing up for our homes,” said Waters.
 Read the entire story on NBC News here.

December 13 Meeting and Action Details

6 Dec

Safe Harbor Residents Association has issued its first ever resident newsletter this week: Safe Harbor Residents Association Newsletter- Dec. 6. The issue includes an agenda for next week’s day of action!

On December 13, 2012 – 2pm – Safe Harbor residents fighting unjust rent-hikes and evictions will be joined in solidarity by the Federation of Souther Cooperatives, Community Development Institute, Alabama Legal Services, and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.  Join us for workshops on how we’re fighting the rent-hikes and unjust evictions at Safe Harbor.

-6pm- Join us at the Bayou La Batre City Council meeting where we’ll be delivering our demands for a moratorium on rent-hikes and a participatory process for greater accountability at Safe Harbor.

safe-harbor-residents-association-newsletter-dec-6-draft-3 copy

Follow the Corruption Trial of the Local Officials Still in Control of Safe Harbor

11 Oct

In 2011, Bayou La Batre Mayor Stan Wright and Grant Administrator Janey Galbraith were indicted by a federal grand jury for defrauding the U.S. Government of the very funds intended to benefit Katrina survivors through the establishment of a permanent housing option: Safe Harbor Estates and Safe Harbor Landing.

Ms. Galbraith has already been convicted.

Mayor Stan Wright’s case is ongoing.  Are you following?  We are.  Check out the Docket for USA v. Wright, et al.

Despite the ongoing corruption trial, our housing situation continues to be precarious!  Why?  Because Safe Harbor Estates and Landing continues to be subject to the leadership of Mayor Stan Wright and the Bayou La Batre Housing Authority staffed by a former employee of Ms. Galbraith, who have carried out the rent-hikes and evictions!

Community Picnic and Workshops

22 Sep

We had an incredibly successful workshop & picnic on Saturday and today!  The members of the Safe Harbor Housing Coop Organizing Committee, who are courageously enduring harassment and risking wrongful eviction for their work, treated us to moving and very spirited oratory.

One of those who spoke was 11 year old Josie White who said:

I live with my grandmother [Lydia Swift] and I don’t want to see her evicted because we would have nowhere to go.

Alabama Legal Services Managing Attorney Ann Brown announced at our workshop that they will introduce our housing coop as part of their proposed settlement with the City over the unjust rent-hikes and subsequent evictions.

Flyer for Sep. 22 gathering with agenda of day’s workshops

Select photos from the day: