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Race and Poverty in America: What Hurricane Katrina Has Revealed. john a. powell Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of Law. Director, Kirwan Institute January 27, 2006. The Challenge.

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race and poverty in america what hurricane katrina has revealed

Race and Poverty in America:What Hurricane Katrina Has Revealed

john a. powell

Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of Law. Director, Kirwan Institute

January 27, 2006

the challenge
The Challenge
  • What did Katrina illustrate? What problems are we trying to address in our communities, regions and society?
  • Two related problems:
    • Extreme racial segregation and extensive racial disparity
    • Declining opportunities for everyone, declining regions, stagnation and decline of the middle class
      • These problems reinforce each other
lessons from katrina
Lessons From Katrina
  • What has Katrina illustrated?
    • The Profound Connection Between Poverty and Race
      • Growing Economic Insecurity for Middle and Low Income Americans
    • Regional Inequity
    • Result of Policies and Structures that Produce Poverty and Segregation
      • Sprawl, School Conditions, Subsidized Housing, Investment Disparities
      • Segregation from Opportunity
  • Moving Forward and Proposed Solutions

Storm Survivors in New Orleans; Photo from Katrinahelp.com

Storm Survivors in New Orleans; Photo from Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area

race and poverty
Race and Poverty
  • Hurricane Katrina illustrated the profound connection between race and poverty in the US
  • Public awareness was collectively focused on the abandonment in New Orleans along lines of race and poverty, and images reinforced disparities in a way that numbers could not
  • New Orleans, and the nation are now experiencing a “second disaster” with declining public support and retrenchment
the link between race and poverty
The Link Between Race and Poverty
  • What is the link between race and poverty?
    • Racialized structures and policies have created the extreme correlation of race and poverty in our urban areas
    • People then assume that only those harmed or isolated are people of color
    • In reality, these effects are far reaching and impact everyone (shared fate)
      • Also harming Whites living in opportunity poor communities
      • Causing regional distress, harming everyone in the region, even the elite
growing economic insecurity
Growing Economic Insecurity
  • Conditions of economic insecurity were highlighted by Katrina:
    • Poverty is increasing
    • Decline of the middle class
      • Continuing conditions of economic insecurity, lack of health insurance, increased bankruptcy and housing cost increases will continue to propel these trends
      • Historically, the decline of the middle class has triggered a misplaced racialized response
        • We can not repeat this mistake
is the safety net being pulled away
Is the Safety Net Being Pulled Away?
  • While general conditions of economic stability are growing worse for many Americans, many of the safety net programs in the United States have been diminished
    • Social safety net cuts in the most recently proposed Congressional Budget
      • Medicaid cut by $16 billion over next 10 years
      • More burden for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families shifted to states (estimated to cost more than $8 billion)
      • $343 million cut for foster care
      • 11% cut in Community Development Block Grant funding to cities
      • Annual housing cuts for 2006
        • $134 million cut to public housing funding in 2006
        • Elimination of 35,000 section 8 vouchers

Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition and Center on Budget Policies and Priorities

will the safety net for new orleans be withdrawn
Will the Safety Net for New Orleans be Withdrawn?
  • Despite numerous pledges to rebuild New Orleans and help Katrina survivors, little redevelopment is occurring and federal/public support is withering
  • The City’s plan for redevelopment offers little guidance, support and assistance for displaced residents those who want to return
    • A Laissez-faire approach to bringing back New Orleans?

Months after Katrina, the Ninth Ward Remains Devastated

regional inequity
Regional Inequity
  • Katrina indicated the vulnerability of many inner city neighborhoods that have been segregated and isolated
  • Both New Orleans and Milwaukee experience dramatic disparities between city and suburban communities
    • Out of 326 metropolitan areas Milwaukee has the 19th highest degree of city/suburban disparity in the nation
    • In 2000, Milwaukee’s Suburbs had
      • Household income that was 56% higher than the City
      • Less than 1/5 the poverty rate of the City
      • Vacancy rates that were nearly twice as high as the City
      • Unemployment rates that were 1/3 the rate of the City

Source: Lewis Mumford Center

racial inequity
Racial Inequity
  • These regional inequities also correlate with extensive racial inequities
    • People (and neighborhoods) most impacted from Katrina were more likely to be African American and impoverished
      • In New Orleans, nearly 80% of the population in flooded areas were African American
      • Incomes were nearly 1/3 lower in flooded areas
      • 1 out of 3 displaced African Americans were in poverty

Source: Brookings Institute

african american white racial inequity
African American-WhiteRacial Inequity
  • Research conducted by the Kirwan Institute has analyzed the extent of racial disparity (based on 25 socio-economic indicators) in the 21 largest regions in the nation
  • Both New Orleans and Milwaukee indicate high degrees of racial disparity
    • New Orleans has the 12th highest racial disparity of the 21 regions
    • Milwaukee has the highest level of racial disparity of all 21 regions
more on disparities
More on Disparities
  • Disparities are important, but not a sufficient lens to understand the problems we face
    • Disparities can be a divisive frame to address these issues
    • What is your point of reference?
      • Disparities do not address the decline in regional health and the economic insecurity that impacts everyone
        • We need to not only address disparities but grow opportunities for everyone
      • We need to not just set goals of racial parity with Whites but improve conditions for everyone
        • You can have less racial disparity if everyone is doing poor (The Great Depression)
milwaukee regional distress
Milwaukee Regional Distress
  • Racial disparity in Milwaukee must be understood in the context of the overall regional distress impacting the region
    • Between 2000 and 2004 the Milwaukee region lost 10,000 jobs
    • Since 2000, the Milwaukee region was the 16th slowest growing metropolitan region in the nation, with a regional population growth of 0.9%
    • Whites are also being impacted by the overall decline of the region
      • Out of the 21 largest Midwestern regions, Whites in Milwaukee recorded the 3rd lowestimprovement in socioeconomic health in the 1990’s
racial regional inequities impact everyone
Racial/Regional Inequities Impact Everyone
  • How do racial and social inequities impact overall regional health?
    • Racial and regional inequities impact the health of the entire region, and impact everyone in the region
      • The “segregation tax” (excessive housing costs) paid by Whites to distance themselves from low opportunity communities
    • The region loses its competitive edge in the global economy
      • Inequitable schools that produce an unprepared (undereducated) labor force
      • Interregional economic competition that erodes the region’s collective economic voice and power
      • Fragmented and redundant governments, underused and redundant infrastructure in suburban areas
      • An undercapitalized central city with declining infrastructure and resources
a failure to invest in ourselves
A Failure to Invest in Ourselves
  • Both at the federal, regional and local level, inequities represent a failure to be good social citizens
    • A failure to invest in the social capital of our citizens so that they can grow to be contributing members of our society
    • This parallels failure to invest in our neighborhoods and communities
      • You can not expect returns without a willingness to invest capital
racial segregation and concentrated poverty
Racial Segregation and Concentrated Poverty
  • Why were African American and poor neighborhoods impacted the most from Katrina?
    • The dynamics of spatial inequity, combined with patterns of racial segregation
    • Flood risk in New Orleans was not equitably distributed and followed historical patterns of segregation in the City

After levee breaks, the Ninth ward rapidly floods in New Orleans. Photo by Ted Jackson/NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE)

Evacuees sit stranded in the streets outside the Convention Center of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina September 3, 2005. REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON

residential and school segregation milwaukee and new orleans





Residential and School Segregation: Milwaukee and New Orleans

African American-White Dissimilarity for the Milwaukee and New Orleans Regions

Source: Lewis Mumford Center, University of Albany, SUNY

concentrated poverty
Concentrated Poverty
  • Why were most areas impacted by Katrina poor?
    • New Orleans has some of the most severe levels of concentrated poverty in the nation
      • In respect to concentrated poverty, Milwaukee is not far behind New Orleans (ranking 9th nationally)
effects of policies and structures
Effects of Policies and Structures
  • These conditions of inequity and segregation are a result of racialized policies and structures that have also:
    • Promoted sprawl
    • Led to disparities between schools
    • Concentrated subsidized housing
    • Exacerbated disinvestment in critical infrastructure for urban and inner-city areas
  • As a result of these structures and policies, many people are segregated from opportunity in New Orleans (and most metropolitan areas)
    • Opportunity Segregation
policies that favor sprawl
Policies that Favor Sprawl
  • Policies that promote sprawling suburban and exurban development exacerbate the isolation of inner city communities
    • Pulling resources and people away
    • Driving segregation and regional inequities
    • Urban sprawl is an example of a phenomena that impacts both regional health and heightens racial disparity/segregation
      • Diminishes opportunity for everyone
sprawl in milwaukee and new orleans
Sprawl In Milwaukee and New Orleans
  • Sprawling development (and suburban flight) are evident in both Milwaukee and New Orleans
    • Between 1982 and 1997
      • The New Orleans region lost 1.5% of its population, but its urban land increased by 25%
      • In Milwaukee, population increased by 6% and urban land increased by 25%
  • In both cases, this development has destabilized inner city communities, furthering their isolation

Source: Brookings Institute

school disparities
School Disparities
  • Schools are becoming increasingly racially segregated…
    • The dissimilarity index score in New Orleans between white and black students was 71.3 in 2000, up from 66.5 in 1990
    • The dissimilarity index score in Milwaukee was 78.2 in 2000, up from 70.1 in 19901
  • …this is not just a black/white, urban/suburban issue
    • We are abandoning ALL of the student body in these failing, low income, urban schools
    • Integration (racially and economically) have been shown to have numerous, life-long benefits for ALL students, urban and suburban

Source: http://mumford1.dyndns.org/cen2000/SchoolPop/SchoolSegdata.htm

school disparities25
School Disparities
  • One of the causes of inequity in inner-city schools is the spending disparities that exist between urban and suburban districts
    • During the 1998-99 school year, Milwaukee Public Schools had $1,254 per student less to spend than the suburban average1
    • If the Milwaukee Public School District would have received the suburban average in 1998-1999, they would have received $125 million dollars more

Source: Barndt, MichaelThe Return to Separate and Unequal. Rethinking Schools. Vol 15 No3, Spring 2001.

concentrated subsidized housing
Concentrated Subsidized Housing
  • Affordable housing policies also work to create social/racial isolation and promote concentrated poverty
    • Policies which have concentrated subsidized housing in impoverished, racially concentrated inner city areas
    • Exclusionary zoning that keeps out most affordable housing in growing affluent suburbs
    • These trends are evident in both New Orleans and Milwaukee
Subsidized Housing and Poverty in the Milwaukee Region 1998

Like New Orleans, Milwaukee’s subsidized housing is concentrated in higher poverty areas

disinvestment in critical infrastructure for urban areas
Disinvestment in Critical Infrastructure for Urban Areas
  • Katrina highlighted the national trend of disinvestment in critical infrastructure for urban areas
    • Poorly maintained levy systems
    • Insufficient public transportation
disinvestment in critical infrastructure for urban areas30
Disinvestment in Critical Infrastructure for Urban Areas
  • These trends are not unique to New Orleans and occur in many communities in a variety of ways
    • Disinvestment in public transit, in favor of expenditures on highways and roads
    • Sprawling development that pulls resources away to newly developing areas
    • Declining federal resources for urban areas
      • Despite the great need to maintain existing infrastructure in our cities
inequities in transportation policy and spending
Inequities in Transportation Policy and Spending
  • As witnessed in the aftermath of Katrina, public transportation is critical to low income households
    • Nearly a 29% of African Americans in New Orleans had no access to a vehicle
    • Many were trapped with no viable way to leave the city during the storm, or no viable way to reach employment prior to the storm
  • Despite the desperate need for public transportation, government expenditures always favor highways and private auto travel
    • For every $100 spent on highways, Louisiana spent $17 on public transit

Katrina Survivors waiting for transit to leave the superdome.

Source: U.S. Census and Sierra Club, Sprawl Report 2001

most severely flooded areas were transit dependent african american neighborhoods
Most Severely Flooded Areas were Transit Dependent African American Neighborhoods

Transit Stop Destroyed by Katrina

inequities in transportation policy and spending33
Inequities in Transportation Policy and Spending
  • Milwaukee also has a large urban transit dependent population, that is depends on public transit to access employment and to travel for other critical needs (school, health care, etc.)
    • Over 70,000 households in the Milwaukee region had no private automobile in 2000, nearly 50,000 of these lived in the City of Milwaukee
    • In the City of Milwaukee 33% of African Americans and 15% of Whites have no automobile
  • Similar to Louisiana, transportation spending primarily benefits highways over transit
    • For every $100 spent on highways, Wisconsin spent $15 on public transit

Source: U.S. Census and Sierra Club, Sprawl Report 2001

sprawling development who pays for new infrastructure
Sprawling DevelopmentWho Pays for New Infrastructure?
  • Development in the suburbs and exurbs create tremendous costs for the public sector
    • Schools, water and sewer, fire and police protection, roads and sidewalks, parks and other public services
  • Research in Oregon has found that that average new home costs the public sector $33K in infrastructure costs
    • Where is spending for infrastructure occurring for Milwaukee’s new suburban neighborhoods?
      • Who is paying for this? (We all pay)
Where was money spent for new infrastructure in the Milwaukee region?

The following map presents estimates for the public cost to create infrastructure to serve new housing units in the region

As indicated on the map, most infrastructure expense for new housing was in the region’s suburbs

Sprawl and Infrastructure Costs

declining federal resources for urban areas
Declining Federal Resources for Urban Areas
  • Many of our urban areas have depressed tax bases due to population loss, vacant properties and job losses
  • While urban communities have diminished capacity to meet their needs, they often have the highest demand for public services
    • High poverty neighborhoods, maintaining critical regional infrastructure (downtown), high need schools, old existing infrastructure that is at the end of its life cycle
  • While need is growing, federal support is declining
    • As evidenced by federal cuts to critical urban programs
      • housing, community development etc.
    • Between 2003 and 2004, federal grants to Milwaukee County decreased by 15.6%, representing a loss of over $290 million

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Inflation Adjusted Dollars

effects of policies and structures37
Effects of Policies and Structures
  • What are the cumulative effects of these policies and structures?
  • Opportunity segregation:
    • Social Isolation
    • Limited access to opportunity structures
    • Creation of high and low opportunity communities
      • Often coexisting with severe racial disparity
  • What are opportunity structures, how do we define and measure opportunity?
defining opportunity

Fiscal Policies









Defining Opportunity
opportunity structures
Opportunity Structures
  • Individuals exist within this interconnecting relational web of opportunity structures
  • “Opportunity structures” are the resources and services that contribute to stability, advancement and quality of life
  • Opportunities are distributed geographically- inner city residents are walled off from opportunities
    • Thus, where you live is as important as what you live in!
the dynamics of opportunity in new orleans
The Dynamics of Opportunity in New Orleans
  • These trends of opportunity exclusion are evident in the New Orleans region
  • Low opportunity neighborhoods in New Orleans
    • Were more likely to be African American neighborhoods
    • Were more likely to be flooded
  • How will these neighborhoods be rebuilt?
    • Will they be high opportunity communities or replicate pre-Katrina inequities
High (Dark Colors) and (Light Colors) Low Opportunity Neighborhoods in New Orleans and Flooded Areas (Red)

The Dynamics of Opportunity in the Milwaukee Region(Light Colors = Lowest Opportunity Neighborhoods; Dark Colors = Highest Opportunity Neighborhoods)

  • Similar conditions can be seen in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods
  • Low opportunity communities are clustered in the inner city, high opportunity areas are found in the suburbs
    • Based on an analysis of multiple indicators of neighborhood opportunity including: Poverty rates, vacancy rates, population change, unemployment rates, home values
the dynamics of opportunity in milwaukee
The Dynamics of Opportunity in Milwaukee
  • Who is living in low opportunity communities in Milwaukee?
    • Low opportunity neighborhoods are disproportionately made up of people of color
      • African American and Latino
    • Isolation in low opportunity communities also impacts many Whites
      • In absolute terms, a significant number of Whites are found in low opportunity communities
the dynamics of opportunity in milwaukee44
The Dynamics of Opportunity in Milwaukee
  • Who is living in low opportunity communities in Milwaukee?
    • Nearly 85% of the Milwaukee region’s African Americans live in “low” and “very low” opportunity neighborhoods
      • 2/3’s of the region’s Latinos can be found in these communities
    • Approximately 200,000 Whites are found in “low” and “very low” opportunity communities
      • 225,000 African Americans and 70,000 Latinos live in these communities as well

Population by Race by Neighborhood Opportunity Level

moving forward proposed solutions
Moving Forward & Proposed Solutions
  • To address these inequities, we propose equity-based regionalism
    • An equity-based, structural approach that emphasizes the region as the primary geographic unit determining the distribution of opportunity and resources
    • Equity-based regionalism focuses on KEY opportunity structures
  • Equity-based regionalism reconceptualizes these structures and relationships not just for people of color, but for ALL residents of a region
    • Without re-conceptualizing these structures and relationships everyone will come up short.
linked fate
Linked Fate
  • Why should those living in inner-ring, outer-ring suburbs, and exurbs care about inner-city disparities?
    • A region and all its residents share a linked fate
    • This issue is particularly important today
      • To thrive, regions must be competitive in the global economy
      • Regions cannot compete with wasteful and redundant services, and fragmented governments
      • Research suggests that regions who utilize regional policies are economically (and socially) healthier
addressing racial tensions
Addressing Racial Tensions
  • In order to move forward and address the our nation’s racialized poverty and economic insecurity, we must raise awareness and address the racial tensions which initially created inequities
  • We must use race as a transformative bridge, to improve conditions for all
    • Race should not be used as a divisive phenomena, as it historically has been used
coalition building
Coalition Building
  • We need to recognize our connectedness and develop and implement solutions that benefit ALL members of society
    • Linked-fate
    • Targeted Universalism
  • This cannot be done in isolation
    • Need diverse coalitions
    • Connect with community based organizations, social justice groups, local governments, the business community, CDC’s, philanthropic institutions and large urban institutions (e.g. universities)
a new paradigm
A New Paradigm
  • Through collective imagination, we need to define what the future should look like
    • A New Paradigm!
  • Explicitly stated goals and principals provide a common framework through which to pursue justice

Post Katrina Graffiti in New Orleans

a new paradigm50
A New Paradigm
  • What is our alternative vision?
    • A model where we all grow together
    • A model where we embrace collective solutions
    • Where race is experienced and addressed in a different way
      • No longer using race to divide and distract from class struggle
      • Using race to transform our society in a way that lifts up all people
concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts
  • What has Katrina taught us?
    • That race and poverty are intricately interconnected in our society
    • Illustrated the fragile state of our low income urban communities
    • Revealed our shared fate, Katrina impacted the entire nation
      • The response to Katrina will impact us all
concluding thoughts52
Concluding Thoughts
  • What has Katrina taught us?
    • Demonstrated the inadequacy in resources devoted to meeting the needs of our inner city communities
      • Levies and inadequate transit in New Orleans
      • What is lacking from your community?
    • Indicated strong need for “responsible government” (Being a good Social Citizen)
      • Responsible to the people, especially the most sensitive populations
concluding thoughts53
Concluding Thoughts
  • The obstacles we face can seem insurmountable, however…
  • Through a new paradigm and with coalition building we can make great strides in addressing the race and class disparities in our nation
  • Strategic transactional change, can ultimately accomplish transformation
    • Eyes on the prize(s)

Remember- We Have, and Can Make Progress!

addendum and additional data how do we rebuild new orleans and all of our communities

Addendum and Additional Data: How do we rebuild New Orleans and all of our communities?

Core Principles for

New Orleans and Beyond

commitment to new orleans
Commitment to New Orleans?
  • Pledges to rebuilt Levies at Hurricane 5 strength remain unfulfilled
  • Large parts of the City remain without electricity and have limited public services
  • Almost all schools remain shut down
  • Displaced residents soon will lose housing assistance
  • Demolition of the homes of the displaced soon to begin, limited protection from eviction
  • The City’s plan for redevelopment offers little guidance, support and assistance for displaced residents those who want to return
    • A Laissez-faire approach to bringing back New Orleans?
core principals for new orleans and beyond
Core Principals for New Orleans and Beyond
  • Develop and support safe, livable communities that are connected to opportunities
  • Provide sufficient financial resources to the entire region, while “doing no harm” to critical social programs
  • Create an accountable and equitable regional approach- include public participation that assures effective political voice
  • Ensure that the comprehensive public and environmental health and safety needs of the region and its residents are met
core principals for new orleans and beyond58
Core Principals for New Orleans and Beyond
  • High quality educational opportunities are critical to the health of a region and its residents
  • Create a long term economic development strategy that produces an equitable, thriving, sustainable economy
  • Economic development strategies must also support local wealth creation and asset building
  • Redevelopment must assure that equitable physical and social infrastructure is provided to all communities in the region
growing economic insecurity60
Growing Economic Insecurity
  • Milwaukee has not been immune to these national trends
    • Income (inflation adjusted) has decreased in the Milwaukee metropolitan area from $50,028 in 2000 to $48,302 in 2004
    • The poverty rate in the Milwaukee metropolitan area increased from 9.8% in 2000 to 12.6% in 2004
    • In 2004, more than one in five people in the City of Milwaukee were in poverty

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

conditions for the african american community
Conditions for the African American Community
  • In respect to the overall condition of the African American community, both regions rate very poorly
  • Of the 21 largest regions
    • New Orleans recorded the 4th worst conditions for African Americans
    • Once again, Milwaukee had the worst ranking of the 21 regions