NAHA evicted my friend from his longtime home. What can be done to help him?

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Riverview Tower is a 16-story New Albany Housing Authority (NAHA) building dating to the early 1970s. Depopulation has been underway for a while, and the building is slated for demolition in 2022 owing to a variety of factors, which might be summarized, and not at all unfairly, by saying that New Albany’s power elites have tired of its presence on the skyline.

As one of them remarked to me candidly some years ago, “Why should poor people get the best views”?

At its peak of relevance, Riverview Tower was occupied mostly by older residents and the disabled. As of March 2021, local media accounts found 26 remaining residents. It’s quite likely that all are gone now.

In theory, if the property is sold for redevelopment after demolition, the proceeds would be required to be applied to the construction of affordable housing – which the city’s master plan defines as a scant percentage within otherwise market-rate housing. A building that once housed 200 people in need would be replaced by space for 20, or 10; maybe none.

Local Democrats think this is groovy. I think they’re full of flatulent beans, but I digress.

My friend Bob lived in Riverview Tower for a very long time, and evidently was one of the last residents to leave, except that in his account, he was forcibly ejected from the premises for taking too long to decide where he’d like to go next.

His options were few, anyway, and what’s more, I’d be the first to say that as a dissident, one who never refrained from asking questions of latter-day, post-municipal-takeover housing authority operatives unaccustomed to being questioned, Bob probably marked himself for punitive measures.

But I also know he’s been traumatized by his handling.

In effect, Bob was evicted, or as he puts it, “kicked out of public housing,” forced to pay for his own moving expenses (which the housing authority is supposed to do), and seeking refuge in a Clarksville motel that he can’t afford. In general terms, he’s metaphorically battered and bruised by the not-so-tender mercies of the team purportedly put in place to comfort the afflicted.

In short, Bob is about to be homeless.

To be honest, I don’t know how to help him. I’ve written this dispatch hurriedly, hoping that someone knows a path forward; obviously, curative spotlights should be directed by customarily somnolent local media toward NAHA as it continues to carry out the mayor’s triumphant 2017 directive to cut public housing in half in New Albany, but this isn’t my point at the moment.

Bob needs help. Got anything? Let me know if so.

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