This weekend marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina landed ashore in New Orleans, overwhelming the levees and causing unfathomable destruction due to the floods that followed. 1,800 people died and over a million people were displaced, many of whom would never return to the city. The population of New Orleans dove to 385,000 – a 20% decrease from the city’s pre-Katrina population – and 100,000 of those who never were able to return are African American. In the 10 years since the city was devastated, housing issues have been abundant and primarily have centered around affordable housing (or lack thereof) for New Orleans’ low-income residents. See what the plight has been like for these residents, plus other fair housing news, in this week’s Fair Housing 5.
New Orleans has seen a huge shift away from public housing and toward more Section 8 assistance to renters, writes Richard A. Webster for NOLA.com. While the goal of issuing more housing vouchers may have been to help desegregate low-income residents – as well as to demolish both the damaged and undamaged public housing buildings following Katrina – the move has caused many of those low-income residents to relocate to the suburban areas of New Orleans, creating more economic obstacles for them. [NOLA]
NPR provides an additional perspective on New Orleans’ post-Katrina housing voucher boom, focusing on the loss of community many people have experienced in the wake of the demolition of public housing projects like Faubourg Lafitte. Instead, some of the residents that returned were offered a place in the pastel-painted mixed income neighborhoods built on the places where their public housing homes once stood. While it’s acknowledged that their new neighborhoods may be safer, residents lament the loss of community as a result of the new development. “There’s something missing,” one resident told NPR, “and you miss it every day.” [NPR]
Despite the initiative to build more mixed-income neighborhoods, the loss in available low-income housing has been a slow burn for the residents of New Orleans these past 10 years. CityLab details the behind-the-scenes politicking that led to moratoriums placed on the development of low-income housing in the years of recovery following Katrina. More, as rental prices rise in New Orleans today, the effectiveness of housing vouchers issues to residents becomes less and less.
[CityLab, Curbed NOLA]
In more inland news – Kentucky news, in fact – an agreement between Lexington city government and a night shelter for the city’s homeless denizens may resolve a three-year dispute over the shelter’s presence. The settlement would see the shelter, The Community Inn, be combined with the Catholic Action Center, a day shelter, with the combined entity moving to a new location in the city. Should Lexington’s Urban Council approve the proposed plan, the agreement would also end a federal investigation of the city for possible fair housing law violations. In a statement released Thursday, Divine Providence, the organization that manages both The Community Inn and the Catholic Action Center, said they are “pleased with the opportunity to have a combined day and night shelter facility.” [Herald-Leader]
Finally, in Louisville, fair housing goings-on were felt as the Metro Council voted 18-2 on a plan to “encourage developers to build more affordable housing across all of Jefferson County.” This follows an announcement from the mayor of Louisville on Thursday that 29 single-family, market-rate homes will be constructed in the Russell neighborhood. [Courier-Journal, ditto]
(Photo credit: “New Orleans Alley,” by FreeImages.com/Sam Hatch.)