What We’re Saying: Charity Redevelopment Without Equity Will Be a Band-Aid on a Bullet Wound

We’ve known for a long time that Charity Hospital would be redeveloped. A massive, historic, structurally sound, one- million square-foot building in the center of city. Yep, we knew big plans for Charity were in the works the moment the state decided not to reopen it as a hospital.

We’ve known what was in store, too. Retail. Posh residences. Trendy amenities. 1532 Tulane Partners has been selected for the project. We have no doubt it will be urban chic. It will be good for New Orleans, we suppose.

What we must make certain of is that it will be good for all of New Orleans. A projected $564 redevelopment plan means that a lot of money will be spent and made as Charity Hospital is transformed. But who will be making it?

Black-owned businesses must benefit from this and any other major economic undertaking in this city. Black workers must get a fair share of the both the temporary and permanent jobs created by this project. The plans for residences at old Charity must included a share of housing units that poor and working class New Orleanians can afford—and not just for a few years to justify tax breaks and incentives that the developers received—but as a part of the permanent composition of the development because it is the right thing to do in city where 61 percent of the residents are housing cost-burdened and 36 percent are severely housing-cost burdened.

If the our elected and appointed officials, along with the business community truly care about the future of New Orleans, they will work to ensure that no one is left out. So-called good-faith, sorry-but-we-tried efforts will not cut-it.

Here is the reality: Charity hospital could very well be developed into the most posh, ultra-chic urban hub that New Orleans stand. But if its redevelopment does not positively impact the serious challenges New Orleans continues to face—economic disparity and inequity, high unemployment (particularly among African-American males), housing costs that have priced working New Orleanians out of the market, then its redevelop will be akin to putting a bandage a bullet wound.

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