Ten years later, some in New Orleans still suffer


When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 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.

While not all the numbers below are bad, they do illustrate who has been left behind in the 10 years since Katrina hit:
Rent in New Orleans is up 33 percent for one-bedroom apartments and 41 percent for two-bedroom apartments since Katrina hit. This is very tough because in New Orleans, 55 percent of residents rent.

CNN/Money recently named New Orleans as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for renters. Before Katrina, the average renters spent 19 percent of their income on rent.  The Data Center reports 37 percent of renters in New Orleans now spend more than 50 percent of their income to rent.  Rental apartments are mostly substandard as well, with nearly 50,000 apartments in the city needing major repairs.

The most recent numbers show 39 percent of the children in New Orleans live in poverty, 17 percentage points higher than the national average.  Eighty-two percent of these families have someone working in the family, so the primary cause is low wages.

New Orleans now has 44 school boards.  Ninety-one percent of the public schools in New Orleans are now charter schools, the highest rate in the country.   Only 32 percent of African-Americans believe the new nearly all-charter school system is better than the public school system before the storm, versus 44 percent of Whites – even though precious few Whites attend the public schools.

Fifty percent of the Black children in New Orleans live in poor households, a higher percentage than when Katrina hit.

New Orleans is now 59 percent African-American, down from 66.7 percent in 2000; 31 percent White, up from 26 percent in 2000; and 5.5 percent Hispanic, up from 3 percent in 2000.

Prior to Katrina, New Orleans incarcerated more of its citizens than any city in the U.S. – five times the national average.  Ongoing efforts by community members and local officials have reduced the number of people held in the jail by 67 percent.

Seventy-three percent of New Orleans students who start high school graduate on time.

There are now 3,221 fewer low-income public housing apartments in New Orleans than when Katrina hit. Only about half of the families who lived in the four public housing developments that 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 that replaced their homes.

There are 6,000 fewer people on Social Security in Orleans Parish than before the storm. There are similar drops in the numbers of people on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in New Orleans.

Over 7,500 public school teachers and paraprofessionals, mostly African-American, were fired after Katrina when Louisiana took over the New Orleans public school system.  The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal in May 2015.

There are 9,000 fewer families receiving food stamps than before.

There are 17,392 fewer children enrolled in public schools in New Orleans now than before Katrina.

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 10 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.

Seventy-one thousand fewer people live in New Orleans now than before the storm.

There are 99,650 fewer African-Americans living in New Orleans now than in 2000, compared to 11,000 fewer Whites.

Seventy-one billion dollars was received by the state of Louisiana for Katrina repairs, rehabilitation and rebuilding.  You see who did NOT get the money.

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans.


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