Class and Wealth Playing Important Role in Deciding which Parts of New Orleans Will be Rebuilt and which Abandoned

Ostensibly, the rebuilding plan puts all neighborhoods on the same footing. Neighborhoods are responsible for determining who is moving back to the community and to make collective decisions about the community’s future. A neighborhood’s ability to draw back a “critical mass” of its people will be regarded as a critical indicator of whether it will be rebuilt.

But the plan effectively favors wealthier neighborhoods. Resources available to residents of the Lower Ninth Ward (a poor neighborhood), for example, are much more limited than those of Eastover, a gated community home to some of the city’s wealthiest black residents. The Lower Ninth Ward is also handicapped because its residents are far more dispersed, living as refugees in many other states, than the inhabitants of any other part of the city. Most lack the means to return for planning meetings.

Harder hit than any other community in New Orleans, the Lower Ninth Ward is still without gas and drinkable water, whereas Eastover was once of the earliest to have its electricity and other utilities restored.

Related Links:

Gary Rivlin, “In Rebuilding as in the Disaster, Wealth and Class Help Define New Orleans,” New York Times, 25 April 2006.