Sharon Jasper, a Resident of Section 8 Housing in New Orleans-Truth! & Fiction!


Summary of eRumor:

The story is about Sharon Jackson, a welfare recipient in New Orleans who complains about her living conditions.  The story shows a picture of her nicely furnished apartment–complete with a big screen TV.

The Truth:

There is more than one version of this eRumor circulating about welfare recipient Sharon Jasper in New Orleans.

The city was embroiled in controversy in 2008 over plans to demolish four public housing complexes as part of a redevelopment plan.  The government said that other housing would be available for any of those displaced by the demolitions, some which was private housing rather than public housing, and that government assistance would also be available to help welfare recipients live in private housing.

Activists complained that some of the private housing was substandard and they brought Sharon Jasper to appear at protest at city hall in New Orleans and to be an example of what they were talking about.  Among other things Jasper said that her subsidized private apartment was a “slum.”  She said “I’m tired of the slum landlords, and I’m tired of the slum houses.”

Jasper allowed a photographer from the Times-Picayun newspaper to photograph her apartment.  The picture showed the welfare recipient sitting on her sofa in a red bath robe in what appeared to be a nice place with hardwood floors.  She was also seated next to her big screen TV.

The text of the eRumor appears to be from a blogger who poked fun at Jasper because of the contrast between the picture and her description of where she lived.  The statements attributed to her in the eRumor are unproven.

Updated 2/25/08

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Sharon Jasper has been victimized. Sharon Jasper has been rabidly wronged. She has become a Section 8 care case “the victim of ever changing public housing policies.

Sharon Jasper has spent 57 or 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 1 of her 58 years. It was a legacy
passed down from her parents who moved into Section 8 housing in 1949 when she
was six months old. She has passed the legacy down to her children, but fears
they may have to get jobs to pay for the utilities and deposits. She laments about her one year hiatus from the comfort of her Section 8 nirvana, ‘ I tried it for a 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.’

Sharon was moved out of her St. Bernard housing project after hurricane Katrina and into a new, yet 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 seniority 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 in silence through the years of abuse by the system, but it came to a head at the New Orlean’s city council meeting where discussions were under way about the tearing down of the St. Bernard projects. When a near riotous exchange between groups opposing the tearing down of St. Bernard and groups 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 context 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.’ 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 these tents.’ She further lamented her sentiments about her situation,’ I might be poor, but I don’t have to live poor.