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Pat Metheny

I heard Kenny G has good credit. That's jazz, right?


Outrageous. I know a lot of musicians outside of NO who will be interested to hear this.


Goddamn Habitat. Just think of how much better off we'd be if those f*&kers would just go away.

Yeah, that's the ticket.


Will, you haven't got clue one, have you?

No, you haven't.

If you could comprehend what you read, you'd see that I'm saying that the standards for the MV are/should be different from the typical Habitat standards. A lot of money was donated specifically for the MV, not just for Habitat. Therefore, the standards for admission to MV should be different.

I'm not saying Habitat is totally responsible, I'm saying they're partially responsible and complicit.

Damn. The forest is blocking your view of all those nice trees.



As was the case with your "Atlanta and Houston voters changed the election" claim, you seem to again be putting more faith in the consensus (angry) opinion of the blogosphere isntead of working from facts.

So let me help you out with some of those facts.

Habitat has to comply with fair housing laws, whether they like them or not. Part of that law is equality in review of credit applications, and equality cuts both ways. If your credit sucks compared to other applicants, it's ILLEGAL for them to give you the house over a more qualified applicant.

So for you to say that Habitat should just use different credit standards for the MV suggests that it's YOU that doesn't have clue one. It's not their option to do so.

There's an easy fix to this problem: a separate foundation to guarantee loan payments for houses sold to qualifying musicians. Essentially, the foundation would co-sign the mortgage with the musician, guaranteeting that payments will be made on time even if the musician doesn't make them. Independently the muscians would sign a contract with the foudantion agreeing to a maximum term of coverage (say, three months) and repayment schedule, breach of which would result in ownership of the home reverting to the foundation (with some mechanism for fair return of any equity established by the musician prior to breach).

This would radically alter the musician's creditworthiness BEFORE they submit their applications to Habitat, and allow Habitat to both comply with Fair Housing laws and get houses to the musicians.

Some back of the napkin math shows that this foundation would need an endowment of about $250K. I would think that someone creditable in philanthropic circles could probably hit Pitt/Jolie and friends up for that without a lot of difficultly.

So, how 'bout we don't shit all over Habitat for something that isn't their mission? Habitat is successful in part because they focus on fixing ONE problem and fixing it well. Let's not kill them for not fixing everything.


OK, so why didn't Branford and Harry set up this foundation?

If Habitat is in control, then it can't be a musicians village, because they can't give priority to musicians (although, one would think that they would when donating, considering the Habitat literature).

Also, part of the Habitat idea is that people will put in "sweat equity" for their homes. Some are not as willing/able to do so. How does that factor in to the fair housing equation?

And I still stand by the idea that if Dinerral Shavers lived in a MV house that he'd be alive today.


Update: of the 35 homes currently completed, 14 are inhabited by musicians.

Not a single brass band member lives there.

This ain't why I donated...


I think the answer to why Branford and Harry didn't set up the foundation is the same as the answer to how Habitat got themselves into the uncomfortable position where they have accepted funds to support something they can't deliver: it was a great vision, it moved fast, and nobody thought hard about it enough to see the credit problem coming.

The alternative explanations would be either:
(a) Habitat deliberately set up a sham premise for a fundraising drive, or
(b) Habitat geninely doesn't give a crap about whether musicians get those houses or not.

I find both of those pretty hard to believe.

Sweat equity isn't a factor in the fair housing equation because it's not explicitly covered by the law; credit is.

And sure, I agree with you that if Shavers and his stepson both lived in the MV that he'd be alive today. I've been accused of low reading comprehension, but I thought your point had something more to do with Habitat's "Complicity" in keeping him out.

ON that particular charge, Habitat had two options: break the law or keep him out. I guess they were complicit in the sense that they didn't break the law. Is your contention that Habitat had a moral obligation to violate the Fair Housing Act?

If you want someone to shit on, how 'bout the RSD? Seems like if someone was about to get shot, they should have been aware enough of that situation to expedite the transfer request. If you're looking for someone complicit in Shaver's death, maybe we should find out who's desk that transfer request was sitting on for days and days while they showed up at 9 and left at 4:30.

By the way, does either one of these posts count as clue #1?


Will may just possibly be on to something here with this foundation idea. But, why limit it to just this one project? Why not establish such a foundation for musicians across the city?

Of course, it'd need to be capitalized for a bit more than $250K, which means it'd need more than just a single check from Brangelina. Months and months ago, when MV was first announced and before I even knew that Branford and Harry were behind it, I left a message on Keith Richards' website proposing that he step in; in addition to being loaded (in more ways than one), Keith is a New Orleans fanatic who often comes to the city to jam with many of these selfsame musicians in local bars. Alas, as with most of my other brilliant ideas, no response...

As to the "sweat equity" issue, for one thing, it raises an issue of fairness to people with disabilities. (Disclaimer: I'm in the field.)


Much more here:

And Will, you have explained yourself well. That first post was a knee-jerk with no explanation. Clues aplenty now.

The "sweat equity" does raise that issue of fairness. That's why I want to know how Habitat can factor it in, and skirt fair housing to a degree.

It's not my contention that Habitat "had a moral obligation to violate the Fair Housing Act"...but with only 14 of 35 homes in an explicitly designated "Musicians Village" inhabited by musicians, it seems to me that they are, at the very least, falsely presenting themselves.

Update: Alfred Growe of the Free Agents brass band is, as far as I know, the first brass band member accepted in the village.

Pure fucking tragedy update: It appears that Dinerral Shavers revised application was accepted.

The day before he was murdered.


Habitat is responsible because they accepted money for something they knew/know they cannot deliver. They cheated the musicians and they cheated the donors.

They need to A) remove the name "musician" if they are not able to accept NOLA musicians. I have seen plenty of true musicians playing in the Quarter and I am pretty sure they do not keep accounting. B) Take the already accepted donations and create some kind of fund that will be actually available to these people.

Otherwise they just plain steal and lie.


Couple last points here:

While discussing this with Lisa tonight, she reminded me that all RSD schools (and I believe all public schools, period) are now citywide access schools, aren't they? So a new address wasn't really needed for a new school, anyway.

And about that first post, my point was this: with all the do-nothing losers running this city and state, can't we find something better to complain about than Habitat, for Chrissakes? I was apalled when I saw the Times-Pic article you quote above on the day it was originally published. I realize the T-P prints nothing that isn't in some way designed to incite either anger or fear (and thanks very much for that, it's just what this city needs more of right now), but really, Habitat? Of all people? They may not always succeed 100%, but does anyone seriously doubt that the Habitat folks are making their sincere best effort to help? So can we please not be in a hurry to run them off by blaming them for complicity in killing the very people they're working hard to help?


Dinerral's stepson was going to John McDonough High, which is a RSD school. I don't know if it makes any difference if it was a RSD operated or NOPS operated school. In any case, I just wish he could have got him out in time. I don't know what school he attended pre-flood, but evidently it wasn't John McDonough.

Here's something from the TP: "At the center of the feud may have been resentment for "Uptowners," such as Shavers' stepson, moving into territory of the "Govs," short for Gov. Nicholls Street, a name adapted by teens from that neighborhood.

The feud, police sources said, may have spilled over into John McDonogh School and a club near South Claiborne and Tulane avenues.

Police had received a report that Shavers and his wife were trying to take the teen out of John McDonogh because of the tension between him and "downtown" kids."


Branford and Connick are now playing hardball, and there's no way in hell they'll do anything outside of the standard Habitat contract to aid musicians:

As for Habitat, I'd like to echo Hana's remarks: If they're going to call it the Musicians Village, then let the damn musicians live there. If not, then they're misrepresenting themselves and cheating both their donors and the musicians.

I'm going to blame them for complicity because they're guilty of it. If they don't want to change their rules, or set up some shell corporation to make provisions for NOLA musicians to live in the MV, then change the friggin' name to Marsalisland or Connickville or whatever, and quit using the brass band members to be the face for sucking in more donations, when they're not going to get any priority over anyone else.


After reading the Gambit article, I can't say I personally see anything untoward in Marsalis and Connick's motives. It seems their goals are just a little more far-reaching than some probably thought when the program was first announced. I think it's sort of disingenuous to say they "won't do anything outside the standard Habitat contract" when in fact the general thrust of the article is that the goal is to provide sources to help local musicians meet that "standard Habitat contract" in the first place.

I seem to pick up that the ultimate goal is not just to give some musicians "free" houses to live in, but to sort of hold their hands and assist in their transition into the business side of their chosen field. If you remember early on one of the things that these guys were lamenting in the interviews they did was the long-standing situation of New Orleans musicians who lived gig-to-gig with no long-term plan or strategy to guide them. Always one or two missed gigs from being out on the street, partly because of the low pay they received, but also because of a stereotypical "tradition" (with some basis in fact) of being somewhat "loose" with their finances.

I get the idea that Marsalis and Connick look at the program as a way not only to provide shelter for families who need it, but also as a way to share the strategies they've learned through the course of their own successful careers to help the musicians more closely parallel the path of the skilled artisan rather than the path of the day laborer.

I don't believe being a conscientious member of a community who pays his bills on time (well, tries to usually be on time..LOL) and who works toward having a stable fiscal situation takes away the spontaneity and soul that we love to hear poured out through the instruments of our New Orleans musicians. In fact, by all accounts this is just the sort of musician Dinnerral Shavers was. The man did have a "day" job at Rabouin, after all. And although his approval was delayed, he WAS ultimately approved, so the program DID, in his case, work as advertised. Habitat and Marsalis-Connick had nothing to do with the "environmental" factors that led us to a place where our kids shoot each other over being in the "wrong" neighborhood; if anything, the program seems aimed at helping, at least a little bit, to start changing some of those "factors" that we've allowed to develop over the years.

Remember, while your contention that Shavers would still be alive if he lived in a MV house "might" be true, it's almost assuredly true that he'd be alive today if he'd moved to Atlanta...or Houston...or practically anywhere other than New Orleans. Shavers' death wasn't a "Habitat thing" or a "Marsalis-Connick thing"--it was sadly a New Orleans thing.


I see what you're saying puddinhead, and like always, I agree with 99% of it.

However, listening to Connick or Marsalis lecture about what musicians have to do about belt tightening and yada yada sounds incredibly hypocritical coming from guys that didn't exactly grow up in poverty. At all.

Yes, we need to teach them to fish rather than giving them fish, but when you agree to take the door money, you're not getting a receipt.

And unfortunately, you hit the nail on the head abou the murder being a New Orleans thing. Dammit.

My big point is that it is disingenuous of Habitat to call a place "Musicians Village", and use pictures of brass band members to solicit funds for such a place, when such people do not live there.


It absolutely is disingenous of Habitat to call it a musicians village when such people do not live there, and no one is more distressed about that than Habitat themselves. They're working to come to a solution, but let's face it: resolving credit issues is not their long suit. They are staffed with people who know how to get houses up at low cost, not resolve credit issues. It certainly seems like an opportunity for someone else with more expertise in that field to step up (hello, CapitalOne? Eustis Mortgage?)

At this point, I really don't see where you have made any case that Habitat is complicit, you're just slinging around accusations at an organization that does no one anything but good. You have made case that they're misrepresenting themselves, but no one disputes that (least of all, Habitat themselves). That misreprentation may piss you off, but it ain't complicity to murder.

In fact, since they ARE working on the credit problem, the only thing they're negligent of is not solving the credit problem fast enough. Well, what are you doing to help them solve it faster? You're guilty of exactly the same neglince that they are. Following your logic that makes you, me, and most likely everyone reading this blog complicit in Shavers' death.


We're not guilty of anything Will. People like us donated money to Habitat on the promise they would do what they said with the money. IF THEY CANNOT DO SO, they should have said so, and we THEN could have acted accordingly.

And last I checked, money CAN buy you an expert in fixing credit scores - they have money.

We are not complicit in any activity we were never aware of. As Ashley put it, they SAID they could deliver on something they cannot deliver on. That makes it a lie.


Here's the link to HFH board of directors in nola.

My biggest question is where is the money & how much is there? They haven't filed a financial statement with guidestar since 2004.


Ashley, I guess I have a lower hypocrisy threshold. I don't see what's wrong when someone who was blessed with having a lot of advantages in their life makes an attempt to share some of the strategies for success they were able to learn as a result of those advantages with others from a more disadvantaged background, who probably haven't had the benefit of having someone to mentor them. I admit I'm pretty naive, but that's sort of the kind of thing I would applaud. Sure, monetary donations from those who have a lot are needed...but the donation of time and knowledge always seem to end up making a bigger difference in the long run.

Now, on to the Habitat lynch party....LOL. Look, far be it from me, who frankly hasn't donated anything at all to Habitat's Musician's Village (although I DID grow up in the Upper Ninth Ward, if that counts for anything..LOL) to tell you guys who have whether you can or can't feel indignant. Not my call. I would ask, however, if Habitat for Humanity actually said at the beginning that all of these homes will be built with donated funds would be built strictly and only for musicians and their families, and that they would be suspending all of their normal operating procedures and rules of eligibility in doing so? Frankly, I seem to remember the press coverage of the initial announcement (again, I paid a little extra attention because of the familiarity of the neighborhood) indicating that this would be a community for "musicians, artists, and other artisans" who had been displaced. I could be wrong, of course...let's see--this from the Habitat-NOLA website:

"The Musicians' Village, conceived by Connick and Marsalis, will consist of 70 single-family, Habitat-constructed homes for displaced New Orleans musicians and other qualifying Habitat partner families. Its centerpiece will be the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, dedicated to the education and development of homeowners and others who will live nearby."

Well, nothing about artists and artisans...but I do notice the statement that the homes will be for "...displaced musicians and other qualifying Habitat partner families." I think the key words for our discussion here are "other" and "qualifying".


Puddin, I just think that I've been scammed, the other donors have been scammed, and worst of all, the musicians have been scammed.

Harry and Branford are correct in their stance that everybody in the cosmos needs to better understand their credit and better manage money. Then fine, let them solicit donations for the "People Back on their Feet" Village.

"The Musicians' Village, conceived by Connick and Marsalis, will consist of 70 single-family, Habitat-constructed homes for displaced New Orleans musicians and other qualifying Habitat partner families. Its centerpiece will be the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, dedicated to the education and development of homeowners and others who will live nearby."

Now the way I read that, it seems like 50% + 1 of the inhabitants would be "displaced New Orleans musicians". Come to find out, Habitat says 14 of the first 35 are musicians, but we've only been able to identify 6, and only 3 of those can be considered to play "New Orleans music".

Here's the kicker: it depends on how you define musician: "Tusa said that it's also been difficult to define who's a New Orleans musician and who's not. "If I play the flute at home, but I do PR for my job, I can call myself a musician," she said."

So, here's the deal. It's inaccurately named the Musicians Village, but because of that name, they've received millions in donations. Anybody can live there, at least, anybody that qualifies for any other Habitat home. About the only thing that makes it a musicians village is the "Ellis Marsalis Center".

I feel I got taken, and I'd bet just about every other brass band member in the city does too.


By George, I think I've got it! What about a rent-to-own program for the musicians, similar to one we have out here for native Hawaiians (who are equivalently important to island culture)?

It finally came to me last night, in the middle of a bottle of, would you believe, Hana Bay rum! (it is named for the scenic, historic town on Maui, not the Mrs.) With rent-to-own, you can get people into units first and *then* deal with the underlying credit issues.

See, it sometimes takes me a while to come up with this stuff, but I nearly always come through eventually. If I could provide these kinds of solutions within seconds, I'd be the city's newest six-figure consultant (as long as I had the right connections, too)!


That could work out perfectly! Now, lets figure out how to make it work.

I love that: get them in a place first, then get them qualified. Once they're qualified, then do the buying paperwork, and credit some of the rent to the payment.

Everybody, let's make some calls, and try to do something to make this happen. I don't know if Habitat would be interested, but this could result in a true "Musicians' Village".


Well...because native Hawaiians are a specific group, they can get specific housing federal block grants.

There's nothing we can do to ensure that only musicians are eligible for certain housing. Blame the fair housing act.

So even if there was to be a rent-to-own option, it would have to allow all applicants equal eligibility.

There has to be some type of musician fund outside of the housing organization to support them.

It just pisses me off that all those millions were donated to a "Musicians Village" that isn't.


Ashley, thank you once again for bringing out stories we up in the cold frozen North would never hear about otherwise.


I have managed Branford and Harry for over twenty years and someone who read this blog asked me to help explain what is going on at the Village. For the past 10 or so years, we have been the largest supporters of Habitat in new Orleans. (The houses we built with Habitat pre-Katrina are still standing because they are elevated and built to withstand winds of 140MPH.) We believe in Habitat's model - empowering low-income families by giving them a hand-up, not a hand-out and the use of homeownership as a way of transforming lives. For middle-clas America, homeownership is the single largest source of wealth-creation and it works to improve the lives of generations to come.

When Habitat asked Branford and Harry to join in their efforts to rebuild New Orleans after the storm, they agreed to help but insisted that some of the houses be specifically reserved for Musicians - not something that Habitat had contemplated at all. At the time, Habitat was in the process of acquiring the 8 acre site that is now the Musicians' Village. Several families were already qualified for that site and the money for those homes was already being provided by the Baptist Church. Branford and Harry asked Habitat to designate that site as the Village since it is a contiguous five block site and would work well to house the center and surrounding houses for musicians. (Habitat is the largest homebuilder for low-income residents in New Orleans right now and is involved in building at several other sites across the city in areas that have no connection to this Village. They hope to build 1500 homes for low-income families.)

When it is completed, the Village will have 70 single family homes, and ten rental apartments for elderly musicians, plus the Ellis Marsalis Center (a performance/recording and teaching facility) and a little park for toddlers. (The money that we have raised for the Village is segregated in a separate account and Harry and Branford are commited to keep working until they raise enough to finish the project and endow the center - not there yet but they are working non-stop.) In the area immediately surrounding the Village in the Upper 9th, Habitat is in the process of acquiring more lots and will build many other homes, although these will be scattered single family homes, and Branford and Harry will continue to push to get as many musicians into those as well. By law, Habitat cannot discriminate in terms of the profession of it's homeowners, but we have a particular interest in making sure that musicians get into these homes.

As of this writing, 50 families have been approved for the Village and 30 of them are musicians. (This number includes the well deserving non-musician families who had qualified for this site way before the storm.) There are presently about 120 musicians going through the home-ownership application process, including several brass band musicians (since this is a category that this blog cares about). By law, Habitat cannot divulge the names of it's applicants or their status.

The application process is long and tedious, especially for a first- time homeowner applicant, as most Habitat applicants are. I am told that after the intial meeting, applicants are called by phone and are sent letters telling them how to qualify, how to work through the process, including how to get credit counseling. They are required to go to budgeting classes, credit classes, meet with lawyers etc. I have been advised that none of the people identified by name here so far were denied; they were simply re-drected to other resources that are available to help them get through this very first stage of the application process. Since many of these musicians have never done anything like this, I think they mistakenly believed that once they went to the Habitat office, they were going to be given a key to a new home (and some people in the New Orleans community think that's what should be happening and are very vocal about it, but that is simply not what Habitat does, and Branford and Harry do not support that model and have so stated publicly). Branford, Harry and Habitat have assembled lots of people to help, but each musician has to take some initiative and follow-up. (I work with musicians and I know that this is a particularly daunting part of the process and I have been told that many applicants have missed four, five, six appointments in a row.) I know that some readers of this blog have bought homes and you know that buying a home is not like renting an apartment; there is a LOT of paper-work. Habitat has built 200,000 homes around the world for low-income families and this is the process that every applicant goes through. Musicians cannot be excepted from this process and will not be; the process is designed to ensure that once an applicant completes the process, he/she can keep the home and not lose it to creditors. (The houses are sold for $75,000 and are valued at a significantly higher figure so there is equity and a wealth transfer immediately upon closing - something creditors love.)It simply makes no sense to give a house to someone who cannot (or will not) pay the $500 per month note (by comparison, I am told that a one-bedroom apartment in New Orleans now goes for close to $1,000 per month rent)and let it end up in the hands of a creditor in a few months. Habitat owes a duty to the donors and the tons of volunteers who rely on them to make sure that these homes go to deserving low-income home-owners and not to some creditor looking to flip the house and make a quick buck. The process is designed to teach the homeowner this simple fact - and that's why all homeowners are requred to go through this very difficult process and help build the home.

We are aware that many musicians do not want to be bothered with this process, and so this Village is not for everyone. Besides, the housing need in New Orleans is just overwhelming and this one project will not fix this great big problem. Habitat's experience in this arena shows that once a home owner qualifies, and he and his family actually hammer the nails and paint the rooms etc, he takes such pride in the home that he will not let it go to a creditor. (One ironic thing that Habitat has learned is that musicians have better credit profiles than most applicants since they generally can't get credit in the first place because of their cash existence!)

Habitat has made many accomodations to qualify musicians within the context of it's federal charter; for example, in lieu of tax returns or W-2's they are looking at gig calendars. They do not look at credit scores. Under the federal rules, at a minimum, they have to ensure that the homeowner has the inclination/ability to pay(as these are not free homes) and removes any debt that will attach to the home and may cause the musician to lose the house. In addition, last year Branford and Harry hired a New Orleanian with deep roots in the music community to help the musician applicants through the application process and to direct them to the many resources available to help them with credit issues. But none of this works unless the musician gets up and goes to the meetings, or puts in the time to help build the house. I have personally been told that since we are raising money for musicians, it is their money and we need to be handing out checks. This is just not going to happen. Habitat is chartered to build houses, qualify homeowners and that's all they can do under the law.

I hope this helps to explain what's going on in New Orleans at the Village. If you are able to, I urge you to visit New Orleans and go to the site. If you really want to know which musicians have qualified for homes, I encourage you to go down and volunteer and meet them because Habitat can't by law provide you with a list. That would be a violation of the homeowner's privacy.

We are extremely proud of what has been accomplished thus far. This is a capital and labor intensive program that takes time. But I am proud that Branford and Harry are actually doing something concrete to help a city they dearly love and some very happy families are living in these houses right now. These guys never envisioned that eighteen months after the storm much of New Orleans would still be in ruins or that a volunteer-driven, non-profit like Habitat would still be the largest homebuilder in the city! This Village is just a small start. Branford and Harry welcome and encourage others join in and help to right this enormous tragedy.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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