In survey results released on August 10, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that, other than crime, New Orleans residents mention housing-related issues more than any other when asked about the biggest problem facing the city today. Housing issues were viewed as being more problematic than the local economy, political leadership, education, and healthcare.
The survey asked 1,294 individuals living in the city of New Orleans to comment on a variety of issues, including the pace and progress of recovery. When asked to assess how much progress has been made on a list of eight topics, respondents were most dissatisfied with efforts aimed at “making affordable housing more available,” with 72% of respondents citing little or no progress. As a testimonial to the high cost of housing in the city, one-tenth of all respondents reported doubling-up with friends or family, compared to only 6% in a similar survey conducted in 2006.
The survey also finds that the economic situation facing current New Orleans residents is bleak and varies by race. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents reported that jobs are difficult to find, 10% are unemployed, and 13% say that their low wages do not cover the cost of basic necessities. African Americans reported greater difficulty finding gainful employment and receiving healthcare, and 74% are either “just getting by” or “struggling to make ends meet” financially, compared to 43% of white respondents. These difficult economic conditions may help explain why 22% of respondents are either planning or considering leaving New Orleans, up from only 12% in 2006.
The survey covered a wide range of additional topics, including mental and physical well-being, racial and economic integration, and school quality. New Orleans Three Years after the Storm: The Second Kaiser Post-Katrina Survey, 2008 is available at www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/upload/7789.pdf.