At the edge of the construction site, the giant billboard seems welcoming enough:
“May the favor of the Lord Our God rest upon … St.Bernard Parish,” it declares, reworking Psalm 90:17.
But the developers of the mixed-income apartments behind the sign have found the mostly white suburb anything but welcoming. And the bitter fight over the 288-unit complex stands at the center of concerns about racial discrimination as the area struggles to replace tens of thousands housing units lost in Hurricane Katrina.
Since 2008, a federal district judge has repeatedly held officials in St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, in contempt of court for trying to block the $60 million apartment project, which would set aside 70 percent of the units for low-income families.
Parish officials have said they feared an increase in crime and a change in the character in their isolated community. But the judge, Ginger Berrigan, and Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, have both suggested that parish officials were engaged in racial discrimination in trying to keep African-American families from moving into the parish.
Read remainder of the article at the New York Times