Justice for Safe Harbor! Alabama State Conference of NAACP joins Alabama Multicultural Fisher and Seafood Worker Coop in letter to City of Bayou La Batre

29 Sep

[excerpts]
April 23, 2014

The Honorable Brett Dungan
Mayor, City of Bayou La Batre
13785 S. Wintzell Avenue
Bayou La Batre, AL 36509

Dear Mayor Dungan, We are writing to request a meeting with you regarding the unjust rent hikes and consequent evictions at Safe Harbor in Bayou La Batre. We have planned a Solidarity Day for Safe Harbor on April 30 and feel that a meeting with you would certainly help determine the tone of the Rally. The meeting can either be by phone or in person.

We trust that your assistant, Ms Wanda Overstreet, informed you that we made this request this past Tuesday, April 22– during our lengthy and informative phone conversation with her. For example, Ms. Overstreet told us that the property manager of Safe Harbor, namely the Bayou La Batre Housing Authority, refuses to inform you, of the rent increases and the excessive salaries of the staff that they hire (a root cause of these unjust rent hikes). This is certainly an affront to you, the mayor who appoints this 5 person board, and of course the residents have suffered greatly as a result of this “irresponsible behavior” as you have so aptly described it – even at City Council meetings as we understand it.

Also, according to CPA and housing coop developer Andrew Danforth who stated in his analysis of Safe Harbor’s budget that management “have salaries of $130,000, equal to about 40% of collections, 4 times what one would expect privately,” and their legal fees “at the current clip of $34,000 are 8-10 times those that might be expected.” Mr. Danforth’s 2012 report showed “rents” could be cut in half if such excessive spending is brought under control. [http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/898847/8f2a8f950c/ARCHIVE; http://safeharborhousing.wordpress.com/resources/resident-proposal/%5D

We want to let you know that the NAACP has a rich history in working out community agreements. (See list below of such recent agreements.) And a meeting with you could begin such a process.

We want to see Safe Harbor return to its original mission – as expressed in numerous FEMA and HUD documents, as well as statements by the City of Bayou La Batre, and Section 3 of the City’s lease with the Bayou La Batre Housing Authority. Once this mission is again achieved, and people who were unfairly evicted or forced to move have an opportunity to return, we would enthusiastically work with you on expanding this mission, to find grants to build additional homes at Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor could be and should be a jewel for the City of Bayou La Batre, instead of the current nightmare for so many evicted people – even single grandmothers and the minor grandchildren under their care!

We hope to hear from you soon. We are attaching our Press Advisory for next Wednesday and hope that you can attend our event. We also ask that you persuade Bayou La Batre Housing attorney John Lee to allow us to give our talks at the public park at Safe Harbor….

Benard Simelton, President
Alabama State Conference of the NAACP

Barbara Robbins, Organizer
Alabama Fisheries Cooperative: A Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative

Zack Carter, Organizer Alabama Fisheries Cooperative: A Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker Cooperative

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