Darkness at Bay
Laveau Housing Initiative (Sub-District)
Laveau Housing Initiative
A low-income public housing initiative stubbornly clinging to life
At first glance one might mistake the LHI as a warzone—debris litters the ground, choking what little grass there is; ransacked utility poles and gutted cars make regular appearances; and the only buildings that stand in the area are three ten-or-more story concrete high-rise apartment towers, clustered tightly together. Here and there the windows are boarded up, the rooftop ledges lined with barbed wire. The ground floor and second and third story windows are protected with thick iron bars, though that didn’t stop someone from breaking the glass.
Part of a 1967 project to expand to meet the growing need for space in the urban housing market, the LHI was put forth by the Committee of Planning and Zoning in 1968 to open new residential options for city-dwelling seeking citizens on the west side of town. Construction completed in 1974, resulting in nearly two dozen high-rise, rent-moderated low-income public housing apartments, each over ten floors in height. At the peak of its population, over 95% of the residents were below the poverty line, according to the 1980 census.
In 1993, as part of a concerted effort by the city government to revitalize Royal Bay infrastructure and housing, the decision came to demolish the Laveau Housing Projects. Crime was a major contributing factor to the decision, as the relatively isolated public housing development and its non-standard, twisting roadways made police response slow and ineffective. The Initiative was cited as ‘ineffective at combatting the poverty it set out to quell’, but opponents of the demolition project claimed the drive to wipe out Laveau Housing was ‘not only racially motivated, but… determined by a classist drive to eliminate the concrete obelisks blocking the Nobles’ view of the setting sun.’ Despite the controversy in the public forum, only one district voted against the demolition, and the plans were carried out.
By 1995, the demolition had almost been completed, and very well might have had it not been for the intervention of a street gang by the name of Soul’s Army. Led by local Jimarcus Slidell, the Soul’s Army organized and gathered the inhabitants of the LHI that had no taken the city’s (allegedly insulting) relocation offer and squatted them in the last remaining buildings: 3, 5, and 7. Moving beyond so-called ‘live-in’ protests quickly, the Army (led by Slidell) tapped into their illegal cache of weapons and armor, fortifying themselves amidst the buildings and weathering a week-long siege by local police. The Laveau Housing Projects and Soul’s Army controversy flared up, sparking debate nationwide on several news stations before backing down at the city government’s behest. The motion to deal with the housing projects has come up a few times since then, but has been tabled each time.
- Computer skill checks made here suffer a -3 penalty thanks to the inconsistent, shoddy electricity and the complete lack of Wi-Fi and cellular signal (at least within the buildings; the rooftops and outsides are a different story)
- Initiative rolls here are made at a -2 penalty for those not intimately familiar with the layout of the buildings and hallways, which are dark, chaotic, mazelike passages strewn with debris and blockades.
- Perception rolls are made with a -2 penalty as well for everyone not able to see in the dark. Many of the hall lights have been blown and need replacement, and those aforementioned blockades disrupt line of sight.
- Of course, with all the things to hide behind and the darkness to creep along in, Stealth rolls made here gain a +3 bonus.
- Social rolls for outsiders here tend to suffer anywhere from a -2 to a -4 penalty, as the residents are withdrawn and nervous around those they don’t know
The LHI isn’t just the sort of place you can wander around in and know where you’re going—not if you’re an outsider. Its residents’ lips are locked up tight, too, leaving few people on the outside knowing what’s going on in there and where.