The Daily Debunker brings you the top stories on Snopes.com.
Claim: Welfare queen decries New Orleans public housing.
Status:Multiple — see below.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, February 2008]
Welfare Ain’t What It Used To Be
Sharon Jasper has been victimized. Sharon Jasper has been rabidly wronged. She has become a Section 8carcass — 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 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.”
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.”
Origins: In December 2007, as part of its coverage of the ongoing battle over the City Council of New Orleans’ plan to tear down four public housing complexes, a photographer visited the home of Sharon Jasper, a 48-year-old resident of that city and housing activist who lives in an apartment rented for her under the provisions of Section 8.
(Federal housing assistance programs began in the U.S. during the Great Depression. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is one such program and is better known as Section 8, a term which refers to the part of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 under which the original subsidy program was authorized. Section 8 tenants pay their landlords about 30 percent of their income for rent, with the difference between what they pay and what is deemed fair rent for the unit provided by the federal
That visit resulted in the photograph shown here of Jasper sitting on a couch in the subsidized private apartment she’d described as a slum. The snapshot captured her big screen TV and the unit’s hardwood floors, apartmental accoutrements many had difficulty squaring against their definition of “slum.” Jasper also complained about missing window screens, a slow leak in a sink, a warped back door, and a few other details of a residence that otherwise appeared to have been recently renovated.
That photo plus quotes from Sharon Jasper lifted from that article (“I might do better out here with one of these tents”) and from others (“I might be poor, but I don’t have to live poor”) were married to her outbursts at a New Orleans City Council meeting on 20 December 2007 (“I will not be treated like a slave!” and “Back up and Shut up! Shut up, white boy! Shut up, white boy!”), then worked into the satire piece quoted above. It’s for this reason that we’ve given this item a “Multiple” status: While some of the elements portrayed in the spoof are fabricated of whole cloth, others aren’t. And while most of the photos associated with the satire were taken from elsewhere, the first one, the one that shows a big screen television, is the real deal.
Though we cannot yet definitively identify the satirist who masterminded this piece, we believe it to be the work of a blogger known as jimbyrd on the Word Press site. The item now circulates generally in the shortened version quoted above, but the far longer original contains additional photos of the “substandard” housing given in the satire’s version of Sharon Jasper, as well as her assessment of the same, such as her reaction to the contents of the wine cellar: “Look at all these bottles of wine, 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.”
That same blog contains other works of satire, such as “Vermont to Arrest George Bush and Dick Cheney” and “Hillary Clinton Sues Barack Obama.”
Last updated: 17 February 2008
Bohrer, Becky. “Public Housing Advocates Seek Halt on Demolitions.”