Post-Katrina Building Skewed

Post-Katrina rebuilding in New Orleans is slow and skewed against the poor and the public sector. More than 200,000 people have not yet made it back to New Orleans—many of them poor and black. In eastern New Orleans, only 13 percent of homes and businesses have been hooked up again to electricity. Given the mass displacement, the makeup of the city is now older, whiter and more affluent.

There are severe shortages of affordable housing, and thousands of homes remain just as they were when the floodwaters receded. A third of homeowners in the New Orleans area had no flood insurance. Some 70,000 families in Louisiana live in 240-square-foot FEMA trailers.

The privatization of public services continues to accelerate:

Public housing has been boarded up and fenced off as the federal Department of Housing and Development (HUD) announced plans to demolish 5,000 apartments—notwithstanding the greatest shortage of affordable housing in the region's history. HUD plans to let private companies develop the sites.

Public education has also been greatly diminished. Of 115 schools pre-Katrina, the local elected school board now controls only 4. The majority of the remaining schools are now charter schools—publicly funded schools run by private entities. Next school year, the metro area public schools will receive $213 million less in state money, but the federal government is providing a special allocation of $23.9 million for Louisiana charter schools. The city teachers' union has been told there will be no collective bargaining.

The broken city water system is losing about 85 million gallons of water in leaks every day—out of 135 million gallons pumped. The repair cost is estimated at $1 billion, but the city does not have the requisite money.

Public health care is in crisis. The city’s big public hospital remains closed, without a serious plan to reopen it.

Bill Quigley, “Ten Months After Katrina: Gutting New Orleans,” Truthout, 29 June 2006,