Sharon Jasper has been victimized. Sharon Jasper has been rabidly wronged. She has become a Section 8 carcass, the victim of ever changing public housing policies.
Sharon Jasper has spent 57 of her 58 years dedicated to one cause and one cause only, and has nothing to show for her dedicated servitude. She has lived in Section 8 housing all but one of her 58 years. This legacy was passed down from her parents, who moved into Section 8 housing in 1949 when Sharon was six months old. She has passed the legacy down to her own children, but fears they may have to get jobs to pay for the utilities and deposits that Section 8 is now requiring. She laments about her one year hiatus from the comfort of her Section 8 nirvana: “I tried it for a year… you know… working and all. It’s not anything I would want to go through again, or wish on anyone in my family, but I am damn proud of that year.”
After hurricane Katrina, Sharon moved out of the St. Bernard housing project and into a new, albeit substandard, quarterage. As can be noted from the above photo of her new Section 8 home, it is repugnant and not suitable for someone of Sharon Jasper’s senior status in the system. “Don’t be fooled by them hardwood floors,” says Sharon. “They told me they were putting in scraped wood floors cause it was more expensive and elegant, but I am not a fool–that was just a way to make me take scratched up wood because I am black. The 60 inch HD TV? It may look nice but it is not a plasma. It’s not a plasma because I’m black. Now they want me to pay a deposit and utilities on this dump. Do you know why?”
She has held her tongue through years of abuse by the system, but it came to a head at the New Orleans city council meeting where discussions were under way about the tearing down of the St. Bernard projects. When a near riotous exchange between two groups, one opposing the tearing down of St. Bernard and the other wanting the dilapidated buildings torn down and newer ones built, Sharon unleashed verbal hell with her once silenced tongue. The object of her oratory prowess was an acquiescent poor white boy in attendance. The content of her scathing rebuke was, “just because you pay for my house, my car, my big screen and my food, I will not be treated like a slave!” and “back up and shut up! Shut up, white boy! Shut up, white boy!”
Recapping from the mental log of the city council minutes in her head, Sharon repines, “our families have been displaced all over the United States. They are being forced to commit crimes in cities they are unfamiliar with. It is a very uncomfortable situation for them. Bring them back, then let’s talk about redevelopment.”
To try to bring notice to her tribulations, Sharon has graciously allowed parts of her slummy abode to be photographed for documentation of her abuse.
Shown above is the dining room that the housing authority pawned off on her. Sharon will acknowledge that it is nice and all, but the “man” knows she has 25 family members to feed and the size is inadequate. She believes she is the recipient of malevolence by “the man.”
Above is her bathroom, intended to taunt her because “the man” knows she is going to have to start paying her utility bills and wants to run-up her water and towel bills. Once again, she is the recipient of malevolence by “the man.”
Above is the stocked wine cellar that came with her new Section 8 house. Sharon states that this is another example of the white man taking advantage of poor black women. “Look at all these bottles of wine,” she said. “They are worthless. Just another example of thinking I am stupid. All this wine is at least 10 years old and some of it is 20 years old, you know the white man kept all the fresh stuff for himself. I ain’t that stupid.”
Sharon directs the reporter’s attention across the street to Duncan Plaza, where homeless people are living in tents, and states that, “I might do better out there with one of those tents.” She further lamented about her situation, “I might be poor, but I don’t have to live poor.”
Sharon Jasper is not going down without a fight. She is the head of a tenant association that works with the AFL-CIO’s Gulf Coast Revitalization Program, which is working closely with the Congressional Black Caucus, which is working very closely with Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to get a bill, operation Section 8 Time Share, passed in Congress. The bill would allow people of seniority, like Sharon Jasper, who have been loyal recipients of Section 8 housing for a minimum of 20 years, to be able to use a special Section 8 permit for a time share vacation home two weeks out of the year in a tropical location.