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US Housing Secretary says 'only the best' should return to New Orleans housing complex

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Published: Tuesday April 25, 2006

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U.S. Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson shed little light Monday on the future of public housing in hurricane-battered New Orleans, but said that “only the best residents” of the former St. Thomas housing complex should be allowed into the new mixed-income development that replaced it, according to the information-restricted NOLA.com newslog. Excerpts:

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“Some of the people shouldn’t return,” Jackson said. “The (public housing) developments were gang-ridden by some of the most notorious gangs in this country. People hid and took care of those persons because they took care of them. Only the best residents should return. Those who paid rent on time, those who held a job and those who worked.”

The blunt-spoken Jackson, who is black, acknowledged his comments might be seen as racially offensive because virtually all of the former St. Thomas residents were African-American. He told a white reporter, “If you said this, they would say you were racist.”

He went on to say, “I don’t care what color they are, if they are devastating a community, they shouldn’t be allowed to return.”

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