Sunday, January 29, 2006

Katrina hit black areas hardest ...

Karen Brooks of The Dallas Morning News analyzes the Brown University study advising New Orleans to work on ways to bring minorities home:

The areas of New Orleans that suffered the worst of Hurricane Katrina were home to 80 percent of its black population, university researchers said Thursday – underscoring the difficulties in the city's struggle to rebuild while preserving its cultural and racial heritage.

"Knowing how disproportionately black neighborhoods were hit by the storm, what are the implications for what the city might be?" asks John R. Logan, the Brown University sociologist who directed the study. "These results suggest the importance of being sensitive to whose voice is going to be heard and what interests need to be taken into account."

The study, one of the most concrete profiles of Katrina victims to come out since the storm, cross-referenced the damaged areas with census tracts and found that the damaged areas had higher concentrations of residents who were black, poor, or renting their homes than did the undamaged areas. The results closely match a similar study done recently by the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

City officials have struggled with encouraging minority New Orleanians to come back, while at the same time suggesting that some of their former neighborhoods – including parts of the mostly black Lower Ninth Ward, where most people owned their homes – should never again be inhabited.

Mayor Ray Nagin was criticized recently for saying he wanted New Orleans to return to being a "chocolate city," a remark he later clarified to mean that he wanted to make sure the black residents – who for many make up the very heart and soul of the city – felt encouraged to come back.

But his comments highlighted New Orleans' painful struggle to rebuild in areas that are low-risk, while keeping it affordable enough for minority, working-class and impoverished residents to live there, a delicate balance that few cities are able to achieve.

More next time ...

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1 Comments:

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10:22 PM  

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