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Equity and Katrina: Lessons Learned from New Orleans. Jason Reece, AICP Senior Researcher Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity The Ohio State University Guest Lecture City & Regional Planning 712: Theory of City & Regional Planning May 16 th 2007. Outline of Discussion.

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equity and katrina lessons learned from new orleans

Equity and Katrina:Lessons Learned from New Orleans

Jason Reece, AICP

Senior Researcher

Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity

The Ohio State University

Guest Lecture

City & Regional Planning 712: Theory of City & Regional Planning

May 16th 2007

outline of discussion
Outline of Discussion
  • What is equity?
  • New Orleans, Katrina and equity
    • Pre-Katrina, Katrina and Recovery
  • Kirwan’s work
    • Kirwan projects
    • Key issues
  • Implications from the New Orleans recovery
    • Obvious
    • Not so obvious
defining equity
Defining Equity
  • Equity is not equality – or treating each person in exactly the same way
    • Dealing fairly and equally with all concerned
    • Fairness in policy, investing in people
    • Equal does not mean fair (ex. school funding)
  • Equity brings society into balance
    • Equity requires investment in all our human and communal resources to maximize our potential as individuals, families, communities and a nation
  • Common use…context
    • Racial, Social, Regional

Ford Foundation’s Initiative on Race, Equity, & Community Philanthropy in the American South

regional equity defined
Regional Equity Defined
  • Defining regional equity: Summarized by Policy Link in Regional Equity and Smart Growth: Opportunities for Advancing Social and Economic Justice in America:
    • “In response to these patterns of regional growth and investment that have severely disadvantaged many families and communities, regional equity has emerged as an important goal or concept to organize advocacy and action to promote social and economic justice.
    • At its core, regional equity seeks to ensure that individuals and families in all communities can participate in and benefit from economic growth and activity throughout the metropolitan region – including access to high performing schools, decent affordable housing located in attractive neighborhoods, living wage jobs, and proximity to public transit and important amenities, such as supermarkets and parks.
    • In today’s economy, the region is the backdrop against which opportunity and exclusion play out in America. When regional equity is prioritized as a goal, development and investment choices facing a community are evaluated in terms of how growth can create opportunity for all residents, helping to build a strong, healthy region.”

Policy Link, Regional Equity and Smart Growth: Opportunities for Advancing Social and Economic Justice in America. 2004. Funders Network. Translation Paper #1, Edition #2. Pages 3-4.

equity oriented policies some examples
Equity Oriented Policies(Some Examples)
  • Inclusionary housing policy
    • Inclusionary zoning, fair share housing, workforce housing
  • Inclusive economic development
  • Policies to expand access to high performing schools or target resources into failing schools
  • Tax revenue sharing
  • Expanding and investing in public transit
pre katrina
  • New Orleans was not a healthy or equitable city prior to Katrina
    • The City was one of the few southern metropolitan regions exhibited characteristics of a weak market region (Brookings Institute)
    • Wide spread racial disparities and inequities plagued the City’s African American community
      • Concentrated poverty, residential segregation, school segregation, isolation from opportunity
residential and school segregation new orleans

Source: Lewis Mumford Center, University of Albany, SUNY





Residential and School Segregation: New Orleans

African American-White Dissimilarity for the

New Orleans Regions

  • 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
    • Only 2 out 3 students graduated on time from New Orleans Public schools in 2002
the cumulative impacts of racial and opportunity segregation
The Cumulative Impacts of Racial and Opportunity Segregation

Segregation impacts a number of life-opportunities

Impacts on Health

School Segregation

Impacts on Educational Achievement

Exposure to crime; arrest

Transportation limitations and other inequitable public services

Job segregation

Neighborhood Segregation

Racial stigma, other psychological impacts

Impacts on community power and individual assets

Adapted from figure by Barbara Reskin at: http://faculty.washington.edu/reskin/

concentrated poverty
Concentrated Poverty
  • Why were most areas impacted by Katrina poor?
    • New Orleans had some of the most severe levels of concentrated poverty in the nation
      • In respect to concentrated poverty, Cleveland is not far behind New Orleans (ranking 7th nationally)
sprawl in new orleans
Sprawl In New Orleans
  • Sprawling development (and suburban flight) are evident in New Orleans (like many major cities)
    • Between 1982 and 1997
      • The New Orleans region lost 1.5% of its population, but its urban land increased by 25%
  • This development has destabilized inner city communities, furthering their isolation

Source: Brookings Institute

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

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 New Orleans prior to Katrina
katrina immediate impacts
Katrina Immediate Impacts
  • The immediate impacts of Katrina produced racially/socially disparate results
    • More than 20% of the population acutely impacted by the storm were living in poverty and another 30% of those impacted were living just above the poverty line
      • African Americans represented 44% of those impacted by Katrina and represented nearly 70% of people in poverty who were impacted by the storm
    • Nearly 1/3 of children impacted by Katrina were in poverty, more than half of children impacted were African American
katrina s immediate impacts
Katrina’s Immediate Impacts
  • In the New Orleans region, African Americans made up 60% of the population in neighborhoods that were flooded by Katrina
  • In the City of New Orleans, nearly 80% of the population in neighborhoods flooded was non-White
  • In total, flooded areas were also predominately poor, 38 of the regions 49 concentrated poverty neighborhoods (neighborhoods where more than 40% of the population live in poverty) were flooded by Katrina
  • More than 105,000 residents of Orleans Parish lacked access to a car during Katrina’s evacuation
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

recovery equity
Recovery & Equity
  • Equity questions to consider
    • Who was able to return to New Orleans (immediate return)?
    • Who is guiding the political/decision making process?
    • Whose neighborhoods were being rebuilt?
    • Federal/state recovery policies, who benefits, who doesn’t
      • Racial, social implications to these questions
recovery policy who benefits
Recovery Policy Who Benefits?
  • Example: The Road Home Policy
    • Single largest housing recovery plan in the nation’s history
  • Heavily favors supporting homeowners
    • 80% of funds targeted to homeowners
    • But owner occupied housing only accounted for 60% of severely or extremely damaged units

Source: Marla Nelson, Assistant Professor, University of New Orleans, Dept of Planning and Urban Studies

recovery policy who benefits26
Recovery Policy Who Benefits?
  • Spatial and racial impacts
    • 80% of extremely damaged rental units in the City of New Orleans
    • Prior to Katrina more than half of residents were renters (between 75 and 90% in certain neighborhoods)
    • 57% of African Americans were renters (compared to 38% of Whites)
      • African American rental rates were 90 to 100% in some neighborhoods

Source: Marla Nelson, Assistant Professor, University of New Orleans, Dept of Planning and Urban Studies

18 months later
18+ Months Later
  • The New Orleans metropolitan region has recovered 78% of its pre-storm population, but the City has only recovered half of its pre-storm population
  • Public transportation recovery remains stalled with less than half of all routes open in New Orleans and only 17 percent of pre-Katrina buses running
  • One more public school opened in New Orleans last month, but 75 public schools remain closed in that parish
18 months later28
18+ Months Later
  • Housing:
    • 110,000 families are still displaced using FEMA rental assistance or living in FEMA trailers, aid has been extended to August 2007 for some recipients
    • Over 107,000 people have applied for “Road Home” funds but only 5.7% of applications have been processed, at this pace funds will not be dispersed until 2009.
    • HUD still plans on razing 5,000 public housing residences in the City of New Orleans.
  • In response to these issues:
    • The NAACP is calling for predatory lending oversight, advocates are pushing for federal review of insurance practices throughout the Gulf region, The Advancement project lawsuit is still moving forward, and Congress just passed a bill providing several billion more in housing assistance

Source: Summary text from Report Issued by The Southern Institute

18 months later29
18+ Months Later
  • Education:
    • Only half of public schools are open at this time in the region
    • Public and private schools are spending only $6,000 per student in the region (about half the national average)
  • In response to these issues:
    • Advocates are calling for more state and federal money for schools and transferal of recovery education activities from FEMA to the US Department of Education

Source: Summary text from Report Issued by The Southern Institute

kirwan s activities
Kirwan’s Activities
  • Consulting
    • Executive Director powell
  • Collaboration and network building
    • National Alliance
  • Issue oriented activities
    • Housing
collaboration and network building
Collaboration and Network Building
  • Collaborated with dozens of national and gulf coast organizations to raise awareness on the continued need for Gulf Coast funding and influence public debate and dialogue on Katrina issues
    • Targeted audiences
      • The public
      • Policy makers
      • Legislators
      • Faith based leaders
linked fates coalition building
Linked Fates: Coalition Building
  • The Institute has been working with the National Alliance to restore Opportunity to the Gulf Coast
    • To raise the call for more responsible government, government which does not create conditions of vulnerability and promotes social mobility
      • For the Gulf Coast and the nation
    • Outreach activities
      • Op-ed placements
      • Faith based organizing
      • Collaboration with local organizations, media attention
      • Research, white papers, public information
the national alliance
The National Alliance
  • How was this done?
    • Working with national networks (Gamaliel) to spread the message
    • Strategically placed op-ed piece and other media outreach
    • Applied research and policy advocacy
    • Presenting a unified platform to policymakers
  • For more information:
    • www.linkedfate.org
issue oriented activities

Fiscal Policies









Issue Oriented Activities
  • Focus of applied research on housing issues in Gulf (primarily New Orleans)
  • Why housing?
    • It is the central issue determining ability to return and the future of damaged neighborhoods
housing research
Housing Research
  • Collaborating with the NAACP Gulf Coast Center and the Opportunity Agenda to produce research and policy recommendations at the one year anniversary
    • Coordinating media activities to push those into the public dialogue
  • Assisting NAACP Legal Defense Fund with applied research activities
    • CDBG
obvious implications
Obvious Implications
  • Inequities create extremely vulnerable neighborhoods and populations
    • Setting the stage for disaster in the case of a crisis or emergency
    • Illustrated the fragile state of our low income urban communities
  • That race and poverty are still relevant and intricately interconnected in our society
    • Revealed our shared fate, Katrina impacted the entire nation
drowning on dry land
“Drowning on Dry Land”
  • The conditions in New Orleans during Katrina were extreme, but the inequities found in the city prior to the storm can be found in every major metropolitan area
    • What does this say for the ability of our other major cities to respond/recover from future challenges?
drowning on dry land40
“Drowning on Dry Land”
  • Sprawl, segregation and disinvestment are creating “hurricanes of neglect” in many of our major cities
    • Some 80,000 houses were destroyed in Orleans Parish alone when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005
      • But in 2005, there were an estimated 90,000 vacant or foreclosed parcels in the city of Detroit, where there has been no hurricane at all - just decades of disinvestment, dwindling population, and neglect
why focus on equity
Why Focus on Equity?
  • Avoiding future Katrina’s
  • Realizing that inequities harm everyone
    • Linked fates and universalism
  • Expanding access to opportunity
  • Producing a just society
    • We need integration with opportunity to have a truly “just” society
      • A society where all people would have access to the means essential to living a life they have reason to value
      • A society where a geographic identifier would not predict an individual’s life chances