Image created by Greg Peters 2007
Bill Quigley writes:
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, the nation saw tens of thousands of people left behind in New Orleans. Ten years later, it looks like the same people in New Orleans have been left behind again. The population of New Orleans is noticeably smaller and noticeably whiter. While tens of billions poured into Louisiana, the impact on poor and working people in New Orleans has been minimal. Many of the elderly and the poor, especially poor families with children, never made it back to New Orleans. The poverty rate for children who did made it back remains at disturbingly high pre-Katrina levels, especially for Black children. Rents are high and taking a higher percentage of people’s income. The pre-Katrina school system fired all it teachers and professionals and turned itself into the charter experiment capital of the US even while the number of children in public schools has dropped dramatically. Since Katrina, white incomes, which were over twice that of Blacks, have risen three times as much as Blacks. While not all the numbers below are bad, they do illustrate who has been left behind in the ten years since Katrina hit.
We've already spent a large part of our summer following city leaders to various civic commemorations where the message has been largely positive. We're a shining city in a bowl; all full of resilience and such. But, as we've asked at various points over the past decade, for whom is this really true? These numbers tell us some of the answer. Especially the ones that indicate what has changed and who has benefited from these changes.
There are now 3221 fewer low income public housing apartments in New Orleans than when Katrina hit. In 2005 there were 5,146 low income public housing apartments in New Orleans, plus thousands of other public housing apartments scheduled for renewal or maintenance, nearly 100% African American. The housing authority now reports having 1925 public housing apartments available for low income people on the sites of the demolished complexes, less than half of the number promised, and less than half of those completed have rents set at rates which are affordable to those who lived in public housing before Katrina, meaning the majority of their public housing units now require higher incomes from renters than the people who were living in public housing prior to Katrina. That is why only about half of the families who lived in the four public housing developments which were demolished after Katrina made it back to New Orleans at all by 2011. And only 7 percent of those original families were living in the new housing which replaced their homes.The new housing wasn't really meant for the former residents, of course. We wanted, instead, to build nice things for rich people and tourists there. It was important that we attract more of those folks. Which we did. Just look at the median income.
The median income for white families in New Orleans is $60,553; that is $35,451 more than for Black families whose median income was $25,102. In the last ten years the median income for Black families grew by 7 percent. At the same time, the median income for white families grew three times as fast, by 22 percent. In 2005, the median income for Black households was $23,394, while the median for white households was $49,262. By 2013, the median income for Black households had grown only slightly, to $25,102. But the median for white households had jumped to $60, 553.Move out the poors. Build nice things. Move in the wealthy. Congratulations, you are resilient now. Those of you who are here still.
There are 99,650 fewer African Americans living in New Orleans now than in 2000, compared to 11,000 fewer whites.
After 10 years, are we ok? Some of us are. A lot of us don't even live here anymore.