Residents of Gordon Plaza held a rally and press conference on the steps of City Hall Monday (Nov. 2) morning, highlighting their fight for the fully funded relocation off of the toxic soil.
Monday’s rally, held on the eve of the election, was designed to provide an update on political candidates vying to represent the area along with an assessment of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Assessment of Mayor Cantrell’s 2021 budget priorities in relation to the situation Gordon Plaza residents continue to battle.
The area’s history dates back to the early 1900s when a landfill was opened on a Agriculture Street lot. The landfill caught fire, but was reopened as dump site in 1965 after Hurricane Betsy. Meanwhile, land near the site was redeveloped in the late 1970s, including the construction of an elementary school, shopping area, townhouses, apartments, and Gordon Plaza, a neighborhood of single-family homes funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and promoted as an affordable path to homeownership for Black residents.
Many of the residents of Gordon Plaza were first-time homebuyers investing their savings into the purchase only to learn years later that the streets and yards of Gordon Plaza were built on top of toxic chemicals—a discovery that resulted in plummeting property values and the inability to sell homes and move.
A class-action lawsuit ruling in 2006 found in favor of the residents; however, the settlements did not compensate all of the residents to fully fund their relocation, nor did it address restitution for illnesses and deaths that resulted from toxic exposure.