NEW ORLEANS - Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen has issued the following statement in response to an article published yesterday on Nola.com, which quoted a conversation out of context regarding the permeation of unhealthy foods such as fried chicken in the Lower Ninth Ward:
"To all residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, you where my heart is at, and you have seen the work I put into the community every day. I recognize that injustice has been done to many of our minority communities, and I am working daily to change that dynamic.
An article published yesterday on Nola.com quoted a conversation out of context regarding the permeation of unhealthy foods such as fried chicken in the Lower Ninth Ward. In the context they were presented, my example of residents enjoying fried chicken and its abundance in the area came off as insensitive, and for that, I apologize. It was also not my intent to imply that fried chicken is all residents of the Lower Ninth Ward want or deserve, it was to describe that the Lower Ninth Ward is a food desert with a lack of access to healthy food alternatives due to the saturation of convenience stores and gas stations with unhealthy food options.
The larger conversation was about market analyses that can help to identify trends in the local market, local competition, consumer buying patterns, and give insight to the economic environment of the area. Residents want quality and variety, not to recreate the wheel. One of the many jobs of my office has been to boost the confidence of investors, show them data on why they should invest in the area including needs, products, and services that are not currently provided, and the potential benefit and profit they would make by moving into the community and filling this gap. Not only do we want development, but we also want beneficial development that will lift up residents and the entire area with healthy food options and a diversification of businesses that allows residents to reinvest in their own community rather than having to travel outside of it.
Together we want to change the landscape of the Lower Ninth Ward, and that starts with changing the narrative of poverty and neglect that the world saw in the news 15 years ago following Hurricane Katrina. Some of the challenges we face with shifting this narrative include lots owned but not maintained, an unclear picture of the population in the area, and the high cost of redevelopment. My office is looking at every viable alternative to revitalize the Lower Ninth Ward through both commercial and residential development.
A major way that residents can help to encourage development in the Lower Ninth Ward is to get counted in the 2020 Census. Population count is a bargaining chip when working with businesses and enticing them to the area, and many investors will look at the 2010 Census data to gauge population. It will show what we all already know that our population has grown. All residents should take the 2020 Census by calling our office at (504) 658-1050 or going to www.2020census.gov to ensure that you are counted, represented, and ensure that the area gets its fair share of federal, state, and local funding. Having those numbers will mean up-to-date data that we can share to generate interest in further development.
Tomorrow, I will release information that gives an overview of development in District E and shows the true picture of positive growth. District E is on the move, and that can be difficult to see when looking at a single property that has not been redeveloped, but when you put it in scale and look at the area as a whole, we have been moving forward, overcoming many challenges along the way, and are continuing that momentum."
Chief of Staff