Sunday, May 31, 2015

"The only story we should be writing"

This is from Bruce Nolan's overview article written for some sort of Katrina remembrance the Advocate launched this weekend.  The links there work in a strange way. I think this will get you to the article. Anyway, you have to read for quite a while before you get to this. 
But it’s also a renaissance mostly for the haves.

While old neighborhoods like Mid-City, Bywater and Marigny are undergoing a strong dose of gentrification, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority says it still holds in its inventory nearly 2,000 vacant lots scattered across the city. They were once the properties of New Orleanians who sold out to the Road Home program; thousands of other empty and derelict properties remain in private hands.

Driven by post-Katrina losses in housing stock and the high demand for what’s left, rents have skyrocketed, with devastating consequences for the poor, many of whom work in low-wage tourism jobs. Thousands have decamped to the suburbs, with Jefferson, St. Tammany and St. Bernard parishes — once considered white-flight bedroom communities — becoming increasingly diverse.

Renters in New Orleans have always outnumbered homeowners. But since Katrina, census figures show that a third of all renters are having to pay half or more of their income in rent.

Before the storm, it was about a quarter of renters.

“Renters simply can’t find high-quality housing that they can afford,” said Monika Gerhard, of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.

Meanwhile, the Lower 9th Ward, once a place of remarkably high African-American homeownership, is nearly abandoned.

“You can spend all you want downtown, new trolleys, new medical center — but what are they doing to bring back the Lower 9th?” asked Harold Howze, a cab driver who grew up there.

Several times in the past three years, Howze said he has picked up airport fares coming to New Orleans to buy a second home in a newly desirable city, while the neighborhood of his youth remains a weed-choked ruin.

“They’re upscaling the city and downscaling the little guy. That ain’t right,” he said.

That’s the only story we should be writing. Until we talk about that, the rest doesn’t mean anything at all.”
Of course, this is not the only story being written. In fact, it's more of a footnote to the official story. 

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