Category Archives: Equity in Rebuilding

ACV Joins EarthJustice on a Lawsuit for EPA to Follow Restrictions on Formaldehyde

October 31, 2017
San Francisco —Today, the New Orleans-based group A Community Voice and the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stick to a firm and final deadline for compliance with the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for wood products made, imported and sold in the United States.

The unlawfully-postponed standards limit the amount of hazardous formaldehyde gas that can be released from various types of wood products, including materials often used in emergency housing and inexpensive furniture.

Congress passed in 2009—and President Barack Obama signed in 2010—a law requiring the EPA to issue a final rule by 2013, limiting formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products, but EPA missed the deadline. Although EPA finally published the formaldehyde standards in December 2016, with compliance required one year later, the Trump administration recently extended the compliance deadlines by one additional year.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. It charges that the EPA’s extension oversteps the agency’s authority and is illegal.

Formaldehyde is used to bind plywood, particleboard and other wood products used in a wide array of consumer products, such as paneling, flooring, cabinets, furniture and recreational vehicles (RVs). It is a carcinogen that also causes or exacerbates respiratory ailments, and was blamed for numerous illnesses among Gulf Coast residents housed in travel trailers and mobile homes supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

“It is outrageous that people recovering from this year’s hurricanes might have to deal with the same health issues in their emergency housing that the EPA has known about—and was supposed to address—years ago,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman. “It is long past time to put an end to cheap, imported wood products that needlessly make people sick.”

Members of Louisiana’s A Community Voice have witnessed these health problems firsthand.

“Formaldehyde is so dangerous for our health that A Community Voice is fighting to have it regulated more, not less,” said Debra Campbell, A Community Voice secretary-treasurer. “We believe that many of us have had harms to our health due to living in FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina, including my own mother’s suffering from COPD. We need more regulation of toxins, not less. Thankfully, Earthjustice is on the case.”

The Sierra Club has been involved with this issue for a decade, in dialogue with such groups as the Composite Panel Association and the nonprofit National Center for Healthy Housing to make California’s tough, state formaldehyde standards the federal requirement.

“It is completely unacceptable that the EPA is attempting to delay this lifesaving, commonsense rule that will protect families’ health and safety and create jobs here at home,” said Leslie Fields, director of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program. “The very last thing people who are recovering from natural disasters should have to worry about is whether their housing is making them sick.”

It is critical that the EPA no longer be allowed to drag its feet and continue to allow the use of dangerous wood products that harm people’s health.

Read the legal document.

For More information


A Community Voice Rally with Electeds & Candidates to Re-Open Armstrong School & Stop Pre-Light and After Dark Busing of Students

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 3.49.20 PMSat. Jan 30th 1pm at Armstrong School 5909 St. Claude

Children travel 6 and even more hours on the bus per day to get to and from school in neighborhoods far away from their homes. A Community Voice has been working with members of the Orleans Parish School Board to reopen Armstrong School in the Lower 9th Ward to accommodate the over 500-student wait list at MLK Elementary School in the Lower 9th Ward.

A Community Voice :

  • An end to bus stops waits with no shelters for children that start before light and end after dark, in blighted and crime ridden areas. 
  • That the City provide a school for the current and future 1300* families/residents, especially due to a consequence of high building activities from: *Perez (297 units), Make it Right (200), city/federal programs (100), other nonprofit actions (100), the consistent number of returning families (300), and the will of parents who were former residents of the lower 9 who wish their children to attend school in the lower 9th ward (300).
  • an end to the One-App forced busing of students that replaces slots at local schools with children from other areas, most who wish to attend school in their own areas.
  • the beginning of a “neighborhood children based” school devoted to the music and culture of the lower 9th ward, and Louis Armstrong.

Invited: Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Congressman Richmond, Mayor Landrieu, City Councilmembers At Large Jason Williams, Stacy Head and District E James Gray, School Board Members John Brown and Nolan Marshall, State Senator JP Morrell, State Reps Austin Badon, Jimmy Harris and Joe Bouie, as well as candidates for office in the Dem. Party election March, 2016.

Press Release Armstrong 1.30.16

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 3.39.06 PM


Petition to John Bel Edwards from A Community Voice

Return New Orleans Children to Schools in Their Neighborhood Governed by Our Elected Board

We, the citizens of the New Orleans community, applaud your election as our governor. We appreciate your stand for public education and acknowledge your support for HB 166, which would have returned successful schools to our Orleans Parish School Board. At the same time, the presence of Leslie Jacobs on the K-12 Education Committee reminds us of the past harms, the firing of thousands of teachers after Katrina, and the present harms that our community has suffered at the hands of market-based education reform. We believe the following changes will make our community whole:

  1. All our schools are returned to our elected school board.
  2. Children are able to attend neighborhood schools.
  3. Students are not forced to ride unmonitored buses from as early as 5:30 AM to as late as 6 PM.
  4. The millions of dollars currently diverted to bus companies are returned to our schools.

We look forward to supporting you as you use the remedies available to you to correct these injustices.

Sign the petition on

Call A Community Voice at 800-239-7379 for petitions or email

If you would like to help on this campaign, please download the flyer and the petition below to pass out in your neighborhood, church or workplace.

Flyer for schools issue

John Bel Edwards Petition


ACV in Article on Lead Poisoning in New Orleans

Link to Full Article

“When the storm came through, it opened my eyes,” Vanessa Gueringer, a civil rights activist and vice president of A Community Voice, a nonprofit organization in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward, said at a recent event. “Our neighborhoods should look like any other neighborhood. All babies deserve a healthy start, no matter the zip code.”




High grass nightmare that has Ninth Ward neighbors angry

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.34.00 AMClick for full article and Gallery

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — All you have to do is take a quick spin around the area of Feliciana and Law streets in the Ninth Ward and you’ll understand why neighbors there are mad.

There’s a boat that hasn’t been on the water since the day Hurricane Katrina struck.  You’ll find tree houses — that aren’t supposed to be tree houses — with branches stretching out of the roof and windows.  But you’ll also find people who have repaired and raised their homes, hoping the neighborhood will bounce back better than ever.

Check out the gallery below and see if you would feel comfortable investing your own money in the area.  You’ll see photos of people who are taking a chance on the neighborhood as well as the battle they’re facing.


Coverage of ACV Action on Law & Montegut from The New Orleans Advocate

The New Orleans Advocate

Neighbors rally against blight near site of April murder in Upper 9th Ward

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.13.11 AMCity ignores run-down park, overgrown lots, rising crime, they say

All three Upper 9th Ward residents rallied Monday against what they see as a continued lack of investment and attention for their neighborhood. They gathered at Odile Davis Playground, which faces the site of an April murder that some said symbolizes how blight leads to crime.

Some of their ire was directed at the city, which they said should take a firmer hand in cleaning up overgrown properties, including the land bordering a nearby railyard. Many of those lots are overgrown with weeds and strewn with dumped items.

As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, some said, their part of the Upper 9th Ward still feels far from recovered.

“We’re hearing these reports about how everything is going so swell,” said Debra Campbell, chairwoman of the Upper 9th Ward chapter of the nonprofit group A Community Voice. “But let’s be truthful. It’s going swell in SOME areas.”

Ancar, who lives just down Law Street from the park, said she frets constantly about snakes, rats and raccoons hiding in the overgrown lots near her house.

The city lists several code violations at Ancar’s own property. She fumed that she was targeted for enforcement even though other nearby lots feature violations as egregious as a small boat, which she says was dumped there about two months ago.

Elsewhere nearby are overgrown lots on Montegut Street bordering Norfolk Southern’s Oliver Yard Terminal, houses in varying states of collapse, and pitted roads that threaten to damage cars that venture on them.

City spokesman Brad Howard said the Landrieu administration has invested heavily in New Orleans Recreation Development Commission programming citywide.

“While Odile Davis Park has been heavily vandalized and repairs would cost the city a substantial amount of capital funding, NORDC is committed to working with community partners, neighborhood associations and the Upper 9th Ward community to rebuild and sustain a safe space for children and families to learn, play and grow,” Howard said.

Sitting in the bleachers at the park, Anthony Martin, 31, said that before Katrina, it was a hub for neighborhood youth. He hopes to see more recreation programming in the park. Short of that, he said, the city could keep the park’s lights on at night to provide local children a safer place to play.

“From my recollection and experience, the park saved a lot of lives,” Martin said. “If there were more activity in the park, I know crime would decrease.”

Across the street from the park at the intersection of Montegut and Law streets occurred another sign of the Upper 9th Ward’s shaky recovery — a murder on April 24.

About noon that day, Marcel Coleman, 20, was found shot to death in an empty lot. He was covered in blood and not wearing shoes or pants.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble said the investigation into Coleman’s murder is active, but he had no news on any suspects.

Gamble said that besides that April killing, the area around Odile Davis Playground has not seen a recent surge in crime.

He encouraged concerned residents to come to police-community meetings.

“We’re open to working with them and addressing any kinds of concerns they have,” he said.


A Community Voice Demands Action at Upper 9th Playground by area rife with Murder, Robberies, Theft, Jungle-like Overgrowth, and More

Upper 9th Ward A Community Voice members rallied to fight for Blight clean-up at a neighborhood park

Odile Davis Park at 3000 Law Street  corner of Montegut and Law Streets

Site of two murders this year, cars are burned, homes regularly burglarized, wheels stolen from cars, wide open drains with covers are missing, huge holes in the streets, an abandoned boat from Katrina rests and the CSX railroad has created a mile of overgrown rat and crime harborage.

“The Upper 9th ward is still struggling to come back since H. Katrina” states Debra Campbell, Chairperson of the Upper 9th Ward A Community Voice chapter.  “We cannot afford to pretend that letting one area of the city die won’t affect the whole city. A Community Voice 9th Ward members meet monthly to work on strategies to save the neighborhood and have recently won restoration of street lights on the France/Poland St overpass, so we are a CAN-DO organization and will fight for a clean-up here.”

The residents and churches that have returned in the Montegut/Feliciana area between Galvez and Law need:

  • serious enforcement of the law, including regular community policing patrols and investigations of crimes by Police,
  • enforcement of code violations by the City Health Dept., including  fines to CSX Railroad for their length of uncut grass and jungle conditions along Montegut St.,
  • street repairs
  • and clean-up of area blighted lots, including another home for the Katrina abandoned boat.

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NOLA activist on Chicago Tribune editorial calling for a Hurricane Katrina

Late last week, Chicago Tribune editorial board member Kristen McQueary wrote an opinion column about Chicago’s deep financial crisis. It was about government, schools, borrowing, and the citizens of Chicago being either unwilling or incapable of getting the change we need. McQueary wrote that Chicago needs to wipe the slate clean, and she wished for a natural disaster, another Hurricane Katrina in her words, to do the job.

“I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops,” she wrote. It was meant as a metaphor. But many readers called it tone deaf, clueless, or a sad display of white privilege. McQueary is white, and many of the more than 1,800 people who died during Katrina were elderly, poor, and black.

On Friday and over the weekend, the column spread around the internet — to New Orleans, to Washington, even internationally — and the backlash was swift and cutting.

“As someone who experienced Katrina first-hand, the ignorance in this column is trivializing, grotesque and upsetting,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Some readers defended McQueary and the Tribune, saying it was a bad metaphor, nothing more.

Down in the Big Easy, many residents took issue with McQueary’s glossed-over version of their city after Katrina. In her depiction, things are peachy. Government corruption has been rooted out. Dilapidated buildings have been torn down. The schools are great.

Our guest says that’s far from the case. We turn to Vanessa Gueringer, Vice President of “A Community Voice,” a non-profit community organization in New Orleans made up of and serving the working, poor, elderly, women, children, and families. (Photo: Flickr/Infrogmation of New Orleans)



Residents say broken Upper 9th Ward streetlights a hazard

Link to WWLTV article and video

NEW ORLEANS — Lights are out along two major overpasses in the Upper Ninth Ward. Community activists are concerned about public safety, saying they’ve reached out to the city in the last year and nothing has been done.

The city of New Orleans is once again blaming copper thieves for the blackout.

“That bridge makes a curve. If you’re not familiar with it, you could just as well go off the bridge. So all of this is a concern for me,” said Debra Campbell, chairperson for A Community Voice in the Upper Ninth Ward.

Broken streetlights and missing guardrails dot the France Street overpass in the Upper Ninth Ward along the Industrial Canal. Those safety concerns are weighing on the mind of Campbell and her neighbors.

Our camera captured blacked-out lights at sunset along a nearly two-mile stretch from North Dorgenois Street at France Street all the way to the Alvar Street overpass near 1-10.

Campbell is chairperson of the Upper Ninth Ward chapter of A Community Voice. She said residents’ complaints to the city continue to go mostly unanswered.

“I’m just concerned for their safety. I think something needs to be done. I’m not opposed to the areas we’ve given to the bicyclists, but we have to protect them,” said Campbell.

The New Orleans Department of Public Works confirms thieves stole the copper wiring inside some of the streetlight poles, damaging a feed point at the France Street overpass.

“It’s a big hazard. It’s an overpass where people could get hit. A bicyclist, a vehicle could go off road. The lighting needs to be addressed at this overpass,” said Councilman Jared Brossett, who said his office is aware of the problem.

Brossett said the Department of Public Works informed his office that major repairs are needed and an estimate is being drawn up to figure out a price tag.

“I’m hoping the Department of Public Works can act swiftly on this, as it is a hazard. I’m working with the community to address their concerns,” Brossett said.

For those who regularly drive, cycle or walk along these Upper Ninth Ward overpasses and streets, the unlit stretch is seen as a ticking time bomb.

“We have bikers that go over after dark. We’re asking the city to please give us some lights back here,” Campbell said.

In a written statement, the Landrieu administration said “97 percent of the city’s streetlights are now working more than before Hurricane Katrina.”

In this case, the city confirms it is taking measures to restore some streetlights until permanent repairs can be done. City officials urge citizens to call 911 if they spot anyone attempting to vandalize city streetlights or any public property.