The City Council is paying for the moves from Gordon Plaza but how many and how much is still under discussion.

The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously Thursday to cover the moving expenses of Gordon Plaza residents, a victory for residents of the Desire-area subdivision built atop a former landfill. The council agreed to create a fund that would cover moving costs, furniture purchases and other expenses related to resident relocations. That money is separate from the $35 million the city has already earmarked to purchase residents’ homes. Still unclear is the total amount available to residents, how much each resident will receive and where the money will come from. The move’s sponsor, JP Morrell, said those questions would be answered at a later date. “This is simply establishing the fund, so we can see what monies are available to potentially put in it. So, it’s a first step in the process,” Morrell said.

This is a good thing for the residents as they leave the toxic dump.

Gordon Plaza is a Desire-area neighborhood that lies on top of a former hazardous waste dump, the Agriculture Street Landfill, which was closed in 1957. The city and the Housing Authority of New Orleans began construction of the Gordon Plaza neighborhood in the late ’70s and marketed it to low-income New Orleanians as an affordable housing opportunity. By 1994, when the neighborhood was filled with Black residents, the EPA designated the site as toxic under its Superfund program. Residents, many of whom have suffered cancers and other illnesses, have been pressing the city for decades to pay for their departures from the toxic site. Past court judgments in their favor resulted in payouts from insurance companies too meager to cover their moves. But this summer, city officials agreed to set aside $35 million in bond proceeds to buy out 67 Gordon Plaza homes. The creation of the Gordon Plaza Environmental Equity Relocation Assistance Fund is the latest attempt to help those homeowners. Though no residents spoke at Thursday’s meeting, many have long demanded that the city provide a “fully-funded relocation,” or buy residents’ homes and pay for their moving and furnitiure costs. Residents have also taken issue with an appraiser the city hired to assess the worth of each property.

The money will be put into a special fund and talks are going on now to set up the fund.

At the last meeting of a task force the council created to address the issue, Morrell said that money can be put into the new relocation fund “at any time.” However, he conceded that the council would have to talk to Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration about how the money will be allocated. The next Gordon Plaza Task Force meeting will be on November 11 at 2 p.m., where residents and city officials will continue to discuss residents’ concerns with the appraisal process.

This action might lower the opposition for the assessments.

We will pay for your move but don’t know how much
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