Brentin Mock

Brentin Mock is a staff writer at where he writes about civil rights and all matters of justice

Recent Articles

The Gulf Coast is America's Lower 9th Ward.

Four years after Katrina, government bodies are still shuffling about trying to figure out what is the best future policy for a sustainable, prosperous New Orleans. The challenges facing the Gulf Coast are the same facing the nation: developing housing, improving health care, closing educational achievement gaps, de-concentrating centers of poverty, and achieving security from climate change and its related disasters. Except in the Gulf Coast these problems are much more pronounced. If the federal government were ever to focus on this region, the solutions produced for these social and environmental ills could be applied broadly across the nation. While campaigning in February, 2008, Obama said, "I will make it clear to members of my administration that their responsibilities don't end in places like the 9th Ward; they begin in places like the 9th Ward." Suffice it to say that the Gulf Coast is the Lower 9th Ward of the United States. And yet, for all of Obama's posturing on 9th Ward...

The Environmental Mess Palin Left Behind

The policies Gov. Sarah Palin sold as solutions to America's energy crisis are now failing investors, stakeholders, and the environment.

Editors' Note: This piece has been corrected . There has been much speculation about what outgoing Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is running toward on the national scene but not so much about what she's running from. Back in March of 2007, shortly after she took office as governor, Palin proclaimed that under her watch Alaska would be “maintaining focus on becoming a viable and significant player in the nation’s energy plan.” The policy decisions that she sold as solutions to America's energy crisis are now failing investors, stakeholders, and the environment. To understand the legacy Palin hoped for, it's worth examining her rejection of nearly $30 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds, and the status of the two energy projects at the heart of her political and economic agenda: offshore oil drilling along the Alaskan north coast and a gargantuan natural-gas pipeline project. In each case, Palin hoped to establish herself as a bonafide...

Why is the Treasury Excluding the Gulf Coast from Stimulus Benefits?

Low-income housing construction is stalled due to the economic collapse -- and a recent ruling by Tim Geithner is preventing federal funds from reaching the victims of Katrina.

Two residents walk down the street of a new neighborhood in New Orleans, Thursday, April 1, 2004.(AP Photo/Burt Steel)
A recent Treasury Department ruling has disqualified the Gulf Coast region from a significant portion of stimulus funding specifically set aside to help low-income housing developments languishing due to the recession. In question is whether low-income-housing tax credits granted by Congress in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita qualify for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's tax-credit exchange program, which allows state agencies to cash in the credits for grants to finish affordable housing projects that have stalled due to the finance industry's collapse. Why Geithner would exclude from the nation's stimulus bill the region of America that most needs stimulating has baffled members of Congress, state legislators, lawyers, and advocates alike. At stake, according to the Louisiana Finance Housing Agency, are about 10,000 housing units, the bulk of which would be in New Orleans, and roughly $73 million in lost tax credits. "Not to mention the collateral damage," Jeff...


The Post report on Barack Obama 's plan to provide relief to families being evicted from FEMA trailers is true, say a FEMA spokesperson and low-income housing advocates close to the administration. Today, the Obama administration will announce the following steps toward assuring that those still stuck in FEMA temporary small housing units won't be left in the streets: $50 million in housing voucher rental assistance An expansion of FEMA and Department of Homeland Security case-management services The availability of the FEMA mobile homes and park trailers for purchase for $1, for small units, and $5 for larger units. Utilization of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act "homeless prevention" funds for families in transition. Advocates for the roughly 3,500 families who are threatened with displacement say they are glad the administration is stepping up, even if it's a couple days late and a few dollars short. The families in question needed help by May 1, when the first eviction...


Yesterday I reported about advocates for Gulf Coast residents still stuck in FEMA trailers for lack of a home to move to, and their calls for Barack Obama to "step up to the plate" as FEMA prepared to evict families finally from those trailers. Well, it sounds like he heard their call, so far. The Washington Post reports that Obama is authorizing the release of 1,800 mobile homes to 3,400 families who are facing eviction. The administration is also supposedly granting $50 million in rental vouchers for eligible families among that group. The source on this is a "senior White House official" speaking anonymously -- curious, given this wouldn't exactly be a controversial announcement. As of this morning, there was no mention of the plan on the FEMA, HUD or the White House Web sites. A brief talk with a spokesman from FEMA yielded no confirmation on it either. If it's true, however, this will be a major relief for families suddenly faced with homelessness, especially given that hurricane...