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Affordable Housing Still Challenging Nearly 10 Years Since Katrina

As the 10-year anniversary approaches marking Hurricane Katrina, community experts are assessing the progress and challenges of recovery. Housing was one topic reviewed at a daylong forum at the University of New Orleans.

Experts say progress in rebuilding housing can be seen in neighborhoods throughout the city. What’s harder to determine is the economic health of the people inside.

Housing is being rebuilt in New Orleans, but rentals cost more sine Katrina. The Data Center has found 40 percent of New Orleans children are living in poverty, with families trying to survive on minimum wage.

Marla Nelson is an associate professor at the UNO Planning and Urban Studies Department.

“These are around the retail complexes, around the health care facilities," Nelson said. "But what really struck us too was how far some people were commuting for this low-wage work — into St. Charles Parish, into Plaquemines Parish as well.”   

Marla Newman is executive director of the Louisiana Housing Alliance, a non-profit working to provide quality affordable housing to low- and moderate-income residents.  She says a coalition has formed, called the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, to get the whole community involved in future development.

“During the planning process they’ll be representative of what they’re calling the community engagement committee," Newman said. "And that committee is actually open to any and all New Orleans residents. That community engagement committee will be visiting all 73 New Orleans neighborhood planning districts to gather input for this 10-year housing plan.”  

Experts say public money for housing development is getting much harder to find, making federal rules essential to understand and follow.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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