As headlines focus on conventions and running mates, the third anniversary of Katrina offers an opportunity to examine the results of disastrous federal, state and local policy on the people of New Orleans. Several organizations have released powerful reports in the past week, examining the current state of the city; while grassroots activists have plans to broadcast their message from the streets. For those who have heard only uplifting stories about the city’s recovery, the facts on the ground offer an urgent reminder of the ongoing disaster.
More than one in three residential addresses — over 70,000 – remain vacant or unoccupied, according to a report by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. While workers with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right project are working on overdrive to finish the first of their scores of planned houses in the notoriously devastated Lower Ninth Ward, the neighborhood overall ranks far behind other neighborhoods in recovery, with only 11 percent of its pre-Katrina number of households. The same report notes that since the devastation of the city, rents have raised by 46% citywide (much more in some neighborhoods), while many city services remain very limited — for example, only 21% of public transit buses are running.