Katrina Pain Index 2009

by Bill Quigley and Davida Finger

Barack-Obama-visits-George-Washington-Carver-Elementary-School-NOLA-0208-by-Ted-Jackson-Times-Picayune, Katrina Pain Index 2009, News & Views This month marks four years since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The world saw who was left behind when Katrina hit. The same people have been left behind in the “rebuilding.”

In the rebuilding, those with money have done OK. Those without have not. It is the American way. Here is a statistical snapshot illustrating some of the legacy of Katrina and the U.S. response.

0. Number of renters in Louisiana who have received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina rebuilding program Road Home Community Development Block Grant – compared to 116,708 homeowners.

0. Number of hospitals in New Orleans providing in-patient mental health care as of September 2009 despite post-Katrina increases in suicides and mental health problems. (See http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=8296501&page=1.)

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1. Rank of New Orleans among U.S. cities in murders per capita for 2008. (See “FBI National Crime, Crime in the United States, Preliminary Annual Crime Report (January to December 2008),” Table 4, at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/08aprelim/table_4il-mo.html.)

1. Rank of New Orleans among U.S. cities in percentage of vacant residences. (See http://www.gnocdc.org/BenchmarksforBlight/index.html.)

2. Number of Katrina cottages completed in Louisiana as of beginning of 2009 hurricane season under $74 million federal program. (See http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/caught_somewhere_between_joy_a.html.)

33. Percent of 134,000 FEMA trailers in which Katrina and Rita storm survivors were housed after the storms which are estimated by federal government to have had formaldehyde problems. (See http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/07/post-54.html.)

35. Percent of child care facilities re-opened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. (See “United Way for Greater New Orleans Area, Statistics (February 2008),” at http://www.unitedwaynola.org/wlc/successby6/about.htm.)

35. Percent increase of demand in 2009 at emergency food programs in Orleans and surrounding parishes, “an increase pinned on the swelling ranks of under-employed and rising food, housing, and fuel costs.” (See Emilie Bahr, “Economic Strife Creates New Clientele for Area Food Banks,” City Business, March 2009.)

50. Ranking of Louisiana among states for overall healthcare. (See United Health Foundation, “America’s Health Rankings, 2008; The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 50 State Comparisons.”)

52. Percent increase in rents in New Orleans since Katrina. (See Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, “Metro New Orleans Fair Market Rent History (2000-2009),” at http://www.gnocdc.org/fair_market_rents.html.)

52. Percent of federal rebuilding money allocated to New Orleans that has actually been received. (See See “The New Orleans Index: Tracking the Recovery of New Orleans and the Metro Area” for 2009, at https://gnocdc.s3.amazonaws.com/NOLAIndex/ESNOLAIndex.pdf, published by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, page 15/23.)

60. Percent of children in New Orleans public schools who attend public charter schools. (See http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/136071.)

88. Percent of the 600 New Orleans residents who will be displaced by proposed new hospital complex who are people of color. (See Programmatic Environmental Assessment, at 3-86.)

160. Number of units which will be public housing eligible in the new St. Bernard area after demolition and rebuilding. St. Bernard was constructed with 1,400 public housing apartments. Only a small percentage of the 4,000 families in public housing in New Orleans before Katrina will be allowed to live in the new housing being constructed on the site where their apartments were demolished.

27,279. Number of Louisiana homeowners who have applied for federal assistance in repair and rebuilding after Katrina who have been determined eligible for assistance but who still have not received any money. (See Road Home Program, “Weekly Detailed Statistics as of August 12, 2009”: 151,783 eligible applicants and 124,504 have closed.)

30,396. Number of children who have not returned to public school in New Orleans since Katrina. This reduction leaves the New Orleans public school population just over half of what it was pre-Katrina. (See Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, “Public School Enrollment 2008-2009,” at http://www.gnocdc.org/school_enrollment.html.)

63,799. Number of Medicaid recipients who have not returned to New Orleans since Katrina. (There were 152,686 Medicaid enrollees in Orleans in 2004-2005, Table 10, at http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/publications/pubs-1/Medicaid_0405_WEB.pdf. There were 88, 887 Medicaid enrollees in Orleans in the latest report, Table 10, at http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/publications/pubs-1/Medicaid_07_08_WEB.pdf.)

65,888. Unoccupied addresses in New Orleans. This is 31 percent of the addresses in the city and nearly as many as Detroit, a city twice the size of New Orleans. (See “The New Orleans Index: Tracking the Recovery of New Orleans and the Metro Area” for 2009, at https://gnocdc.s3.amazonaws.com/NOLAIndex/ESNOLAIndex.pdf, published by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, page 12/23. See also http://www.gnocdc.org/BenchmarksforBlight/index.html.)

128,341: Number of Louisianians looking for work. (See Louisiana Workforce Commission, News Release, May 27, 2009, at http://www.laworks.net/Downloads/LMI/Data_for_April_2009.pdf.)

143,193. Fewer people in New Orleans than before Katrina, according to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center estimate of 311,853, the most recent population estimate in Orleans. (See Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, “Census Population Estimates 2000-2008,” at http://www.gnocdc.org/census_pop_estimates.html.)

9.5 million. Dollar amount of federal Medicaid stimulus rejected outright by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal which would have expanded temporary Medicaid coverage for families who leave welfare and get a job. (See WDSU, “Jindal Says ‘No’ to Health Care Stimulus Funds,” at http://www.wdsu.com/money/19057646/detail.html.)

98 million. Dollar amount of unemployment federal stimulus dollars rejected by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that was available to bolster the unemployment compensation funds to assist 25,000 families in Louisiana. (See Michelle Millhollon, “March protests Jindal rejection of funds,” The Advocate, May 28, 2009, and NELP document.)

900 million: Dollar amount paid to ICF International, the company that was hired by the state of Louisiana to distribute federal Road Home rebuilding dollars. (See David Hammer, “ICF’s Oversight of Road Home Comes to an End,” Times Picayune, June 11, 2009, at http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/icfs_oversight_of_road_home_pr.html.)

?. Current vulnerability to storm-related flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers continues work to provide protection from a storm surge that has a 1 percent chance of occurring any given year. However, Katrina was a stronger storm than the system under construction is designed to protect against. Because no updated indicators exist on land loss, coastal restoration and mitigation of flood risk due to human engineering, tracking recovery is, at best, challenging. (See “The New Orleans Index: Tracking the Recovery of New Orleans and the Metro Area” for 2009, at https://gnocdc.s3.amazonaws.com/NOLAIndex/ESNOLAIndex.pdf, published by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, page 14/23.)

Davida Finger is a justice lawyer and clinical professor at Loyola University New Orleans. Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer on leave from Loyola now serving as legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.