Mrs. Rose Guy
Retired, Former resident of St Bernard Housing Project, New Orleans
Interviewed by Jessica Moist
June 13, 2006
After evacuating the residents of St Bernard Housing Project before Katrina, the Housing Authority of New Orleans surrounded the buildings with a barbed wire fence that cost an estimated $270,000. Unable to re-enter their apartments after the storm, Ms. Rose and many other residents now live in tents in the high way median across from their former homes.
My name is Rose Guy. I'm a native and resident of the St Bernard Housing Development which I was born in, and raised in the city of New Orleans. I never lived nowhere outside of St Bernard Housing Projects, and I'm stationed now in Houston, TX, which I really don't like.
When I went to Houston, Texas, the buses from Houston came down for taking evacuees but no one told us we'd have to evacuate for good. I really didn't want to leave home. When I got to the bridge I stood on the bridge for about three days before I was rescued and brought out to Houston, Texas. I thank God for that, but now I'm ready to come back home.
Houston is too large for me. I'm sickly, I'm stressing. A lot of other people is stressing. When the hurricane was over, during the procedure of our lease we were not told that we were not going to have a place to live anymore. I think it's such a shame they violating the rules and regulations of the St Bernard Housing Development. You know, if rules are made for us they should be able to abide by the rules also.
Why is it everybody stuck all over the world? People want to come home. They stressing, they dying... half of us are sick. We're stuck everywhere but where we want to be. We want to be home. We got a home and a community to come back to. Texas is just not the place for me. It's too hot. It's too muggy, too sticky, which I realize it's hot this time of year in New Orleans but Texas is even hotter. Everywhere I go I have to spend $40 to $50 one-way. Houston is huge. I spent all the Katrina financing money on cabs. Nobody's doing nothing for you for nothing in Houston. It costs us a pretty penny to live in Houston.
The bottom line is I really want to come home. I's crying each and every night. It's hard for me to get medical attention since I have been in Houston…I was getting an income the 1st and the 30th. They done took my 1st check away from me. You see, we not used to paying this high price money. Houston is all about the dollar, which I don't blame them, but me being on a fixed income I cannot afford to live in Houston. Therefore I would like to reside back where I come from and hoping somebody will take it under consideration…not only me, everyone wants to come home. No one wants to be away from home. We ain't never been in a position where we never could come back home and its hurting everybody and the minute something happens they quickly say ¨one of Katrina¨ so they can put you in the spotlight on TV but they had crime before we went there! It was nice that they let us in there but guess what, to be moved from your homeland, I don't think it's fair. You know what I'm saying? I just want to come home and I hope and pray to God that the gates can open up and I can be back home again before I die, you know, that's my main thing. I want to come home.
Even the kids going through stress, our children going through something. They're harsh on the children in Houston. Half of the children they flunked because they were from New Orleans. They're not giving those children a chance. They not being understanding of what they been through.
Q. WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE NECESSARY FOR RESIDENTS OF NEW ORLEANS TO BE ABLE TO COME BACK HOME?
What's gonna be necessary for one to come home is for everybody who wants a home to cut them gates down and let us come in there and clean out our own apartments. We will to do this. We willing to work, don't want another to do it (for us). We wanna be like a community. They pay the contractors all this money to put this fence up like a penitentiary. Why not pay the people who live in public housing? Give them jobs instead of given all those other people jobs, and we could fix these places and contract them and you know, work for the contractors.
When I came home on April the 4th and we went through the gates, one of the contractors here was upstairs in my house taking stuff out of the house and setting it outside the gates… Whatcha doing upstairs taking the little stuff I had left? You understand what I'm saying here? We is human beings. Don't just push us away like we dogs just because we poor people and you just don't care about us. Allow us to come back home. Give us opportunity. I come up here all my life. This is the only place I know.
Q. IS THE SITUATION IN NEW ORLEANS ANY BETTER 9 MONTHS LATER?
Nine months after, the city is coming back up and the people want to come back up into live in the development. Our city's no more toxic than Houston. Houston's got all types of (industrial) plants out there. If you can live in Houston you can live just about anywhere. You know, I want to come home and live. That's the bottom line. I don't have nothing personal against Houston. I just don't like Houston. I want to be here in New Orleans. My city offers me culture, love and everything. In Houston we don't have all that. I want to come back home for my children. This is where my mother and father was buried. You know, I can't even visit their grave sites like I want if I am stuck somewheres else. I want to come home.
We gonna need government grants to fix the places back up, to clean them up you know, turn the water on, to fix the windows …Right now they only doing some area-type stuff. They'll come cut grass and put up a fence. What about gutting those apartments, priming them, sanitizing them, you know what I'm saying? Fixing them so we can go back in them. Give to all you know. If other projects can go back home then why we can go back home? This is the most solid and strongest built projects. I don't see why it should have to be torn down. And there's people that need houses!
See, when it's all over, said and done in Houston, everybody be living underneath the bridge somewhere, won't have a roof over their heads. Houston is very much expensive. I'm trying to make plans to come home now and hoping and praying to God I can get in there by July the 4th.