Archive of Supplemental Resources

Additional in-depth articles and resources are available at St. John Partners Resources.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Public Housing in New Orleans

There is an interesting conversation taking place on the Times Picayune blog regarding the decision to tear down public housing.  While the editorial supports the decision, the comments provide some interesting history, including the fact that the projects were originally created for  (primarily white) dependents of WWI servicemen.

Check the following:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Partnership Contributions and ABC Credit

Process for Making Partnership Contributions

It is hoped that each partner church will contribute --

1. An initial gift of $250 to $1,000 to the national Churches Supporting Churches organization. That gift can be made out to CSC and mailed to:
c/o Christian Unity Baptist Church
1700 Conti St
New Orleans, LA 70112-3606

These gifts support the overall work of CSC.


2. A monthly gift of $100 to support your partner church. Pastor Boutté is using these funds to rebuild a ministry to youth in his neighborhood. He is doing so creatively and imaginatively -- and he does not limit his efforts to young people within the walls of the church.

Pastor Boutté prefers that these gifts come through the BPFNA. You can send your support monthly or quarterly -- or you can prepay for the year. The BPFNA will collect the support and send it in monthly installments to St John Baptist Church.

Make your check payable to BPFNA and in the memo write Monthly Support for St John Baptist Church.

You may use this address:
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
4800 Wedgewood Drive
Charlotte, NC 28210

If you prefer to send your support directly to the church, contact LeDayne McLeese Polaski ( who will send you the address.

It would be most helpful to send a note saying something like -- "These funds represent one quarter of our yearly support for St John Baptist Church" or "This check for $1,200 is one full year of support for St John Baptist Church."

3. If you ever choose to send a gift beyond your monthly support, please send a note along clearly stating how you wish it to be directed.

Marcus Pomeroy’s note about ABC mission credit for contributions:

ABCUSA will include CSC funds as part of the monthly reporting from churches. This means that a local ABC congregation can send their contributions with their other mission giving and receive "credit" for their CSC gift as part of their ABC mission giving.

The New Orleans Diaspora

An article in Tuesday's New York Times describes the problems former residents of New Orleans are facing as they try to return.   

To read the article, click below.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Children Face Psychological Problems

James Craig drew attention to this article in today's New York Times.  Click on the title below to access the article.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Brad Pitt Builds in the Ninth Ward

This article appeared in the New York Times yesterday.  Click on the title below to access.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Orleans Housing Shortage

This article in the New York Times documents the shortage of rental housing in New Orleans. Click on the title to read the entire article.

NATIONAL / U.S. | December 3, 2007
New Orleans Hurt by Acute Rental Shortage
New Orleans is suffering from an acute shortage of housing that has nearly doubled the cost of rental units.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Call to Support S. 1668, the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007

Rev. Boutté invites St. John partners to support S. 1668.

The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007 provides options for affordable housing and homeownership, including:
· Phased re-development of subsidized housing; vouchers for low-income families, the elderly and homeless; and low-income homeownership opportunities.
· Resources to cover most of the Road Home funding gap.
· Federal housing and insurance guidelines to spur the equitable development of blighted properties, and free up local mortgage capital for Gulf Coast residents.

The Senate bill “grants a right of return to previous public housing households” and “authorizes appropriations for the fair housing initiatives program.”

For a summary of the legislation, go to:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

NY Times article about red tape in New Orleans

Jan recommends the following article from yesterday's NY Times: "This explains some of the damage we saw, especially at City Park."

NATIONAL / U.S. | November 6, 2007
Critics Cite Red Tape in Rebuilding of Louisiana
Local officials say the federal process used to pay for repairs to schools, sewers and police stations seems to value perfect paperwork over speedy resolutions.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vi Burg (St. Andrews) reflections on the delegation to New Orleans

We recently went to New Orleans with a group from Churches Supporting Churches (CSC). The founder of CSC is the Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian, who worked very closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights movement. Here is what he said when interviewed about the origin of CSC:

"I was watching television as everyone else was for a couple of weeks just after the storms of August 2005. I realized that no one had even noticed the destruction of the churches. There were no pictures shown - there were no pastors interviewed - there was nothing to acknowledge that churches and all they represented had been destroyed. Their buildings were destroyed, their parsonages were destroyed, their people were scattered throughout the country - that moving of people from their homes was the only thing that was done on any scale. It was clear that the intent was to replace black people - let's say it like it is because racism was basic to this thing - they were intent on taking property from the poor and giving it away - to the government, to upper class whites, to the oil industry.

At one point it occurred to me that they were even dividing it up - I could see them giving the Ninth Ward to the oil industry, downtown to the people with money. It was clear that no one intended to rebuild the city on behalf of the people who lived there - there was not, and has not been, money given to help the poor return - there was not, and has not been, preparation for their coming back. These people were left with nothing in a place they didn't want to be and there has been no preparation made for their return to the city.

And so I woke up one morning with the idea of CSC - the idea of getting three churches up in twelve different neighborhoods as quickly as possible. Churches to serve as a force - as community bases - as places to worship and as centers of community rebuilding. These reopened churches would be led by a cadre of ministers ready to push issues. We formed CSC with 36 churches that have lost everything."

New Orleans is facing a major housing crisis

Rents are double or triple what they were before the storm. Many families are still shut out of their former homes in public housing. Homeowners are struggling with huge insurance costs. They face a gap between the cost of rebuilding and their insurance payouts and the Road Home grants. Several people I spoke with said the grant money they had been promised never materialized. As we toured the areas still affected by Katrina, it was very powerful. We came upon what looked like a field you might see here in Perkasie, only under closer inspection you could see the cement slabs where houses had been and families had lived. One sight that stayed with me was a set of steps behind which was a cement slab with concrete pillars that had supported a house. It looked like steps leading to a cemetery - the death of a family's dream.

I was impressed by the spirit of the people we met. We were warmly welcomed and individuals were willing to share their stories. As Rev. Boutee, Pastor of St. John Baptist our partner church, said in his Sunday message, "It's not the end of the road it's a bend in the road."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Report from Rev. Boutte

Once again I would like to thank you and your congregation for participating in the Churches Supporting Churches (CSC) initiative. This memo is to give you a brief update on the progress of St. John Baptist Church and our work with CSC.

It has taken us six months to get the utilities on in the sanctuary; however we finally achieved this feat in the month of July. So our congregation can now worship in a more comfortable setting. About sixty-five per cent of the former membership has returned. Many of the members who have not returned are still having difficulty finding affordable housing. In addition to the members who have returned, we have also taken in new members since we moved back into the sanctuary. I am hopeful that within a year the church will be very close to the pre-Katrina membership.

In light of the changing demographics within our community, I have had to change the strategy for the redevelopment of the congregation. First, it was necessary to structure ministry more inclusive of the seniors. We are calling this ministry the
“Seasoned Saints Ministry.” Currently, there is not as much weekly activity as there was before the storm; however the seniors are reconnecting to each other in a deeper way. Secondly, I am currently doing outreach to teenagers and young adults. On August 13th a focus group was conducted with ages 17- 25 to determine their values and how to craft a ministry to meet their needs. This endeavor was done in partnership with Public-Private Ventures out of Philadelphia. I have also hired a musician and the choir will began singing in worship the first Sunday in September. Hopefully this will also be a vehicle to attract youth and young adults. Please be advised that I am using the monthly contributions from the CSC partners to help finance activities for the redevelopment of the youth and young adult ministry. Thirdly, I am preparing for a church audit. The storm destroyed all of our church records. Thus it was necessary to get copies of bank receipts and other legal documents. For about fourteen months the leadership of the church was dislocated across the country. We held meetings via conference calls but as we reassembled our documents, records were stored in various places. To date, we have a central place for our records. So as the church becomes operational again I want to make certain that our fiscal records are in order. Lastly, the congregation will have a rededication service mid September to ceremonially transition back into the sanctuary.

Presently the greatest challenge we are facing is the exponential increase in insurances. The insurance has doubled on the church van; the hazard and flood insurance has more than tripled. The high cost of insurance is a major problem throughout the Gulf Coast Region not only for churches; this has affected the reopening of small businesses and the redevelopment of affordable housing.

The work of Churches Supporting Churches (CSC) has become more intensive as we approach the gubernatorial forum scheduled for September 30th. I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of interest this event has generated. I have taken some preliminary quotas and it looks like we will reach our goal of one-thousand congregants.

We have invited the four top gubernatorial contenders. To date, the two democratic candidates have confirmed. We are still awaiting a response from the republican candidates. Policy Link has allies in Baton Rouge and they are working with us to get the republican candidates to the forum. We are hopeful that by the end of August we will have all of the candidates confirmed.

The CSC affordable housing initiative is also proceeding well. We have met with several developers to get cost estimates for the development of the four target areas. Estimated costs are more than we anticipated but there are some revenue streams that we are pursing to determine if we can put a package together for financing.

In July, a small delegation of ministers attended the Industrial Areas Foundation –
10-Day National Training held in Chicago. The training helped them see the importance of equitable development and why broad-based organizing is necessary for public policy change. These ministers returned with a renewed commitment to the work of CSC and the rebuilding of New Orleans.

On August 2nd, I was invited by the National Council of Churches to give testimony on Capitol Hill before the Budget Finance Committee. I have attached a copy of my testimony. This may help inform you of the challenges New Orleans faces in redevelopment and what precludes the return of those in Diaspora two years after the storm.

Lastly, I want to thank Dan Prima for the laptop computer and printer. The equipment has been very useful particularly during this period of preparation for the September forum. Also please let Keith Dodd know that I have not forgotten about the website and as soon as I am through with the church audit I will be in touch. Kalima and I have discussed the October date for the policy training at CBC, however I would like to wait until mid September to look at dates because I have to focus on the gubernatorial event at this point.

I know that this is a very brief report; still I hope it will be informative in some way relative to what we are doing in CSC. If there are additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rev. Boutte testifies before Congress

At the invitation of the National Council of Churches, Rev. Boutte testified on Capitol Hill before the Budget Finance Committee on August 2nd. His testimony speaks of the challenges New Orleans faces in redevelopment and addresses the barriers precluding the return of those in Diaspora two years post-Katrina.

Link to video of testimony in the House of Representatives. Rev. Boutte speaks at about 25 minutes in.