Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Neighborhood has 4 Months

Every day is important these days in New Orleans, but today is especially important. Mayor Ray Nagin's Bring New Orleans Back Commission revealed their highly anticipated plans for the city's future. They published the following map:
Both my house (represented by a red arrow that I added) and Xavier University (represented by the yellow arrow that I added) are in sections of the city labled "building moratorium until neighborhoods prove viability." And we have four months to prove to them we're viable. Apparently no building permits will be issued, but we have to prove that most of the residents in our neighborhood are returning. Mind you, all of this depends on Mayor Nagin, as he can endorse these recommendations, ignore them, or modify them. Of course Xavier will be allowed to rebuild, but the surrounding neighborhood of Gertown is in question. I am sure that my neighborhood in Mid City (or at least my block) in the end will be allowed to be rebuilt. Most of the neighbors on my block have already gutted their homes and are either back or plan to be back. I haven't gutted my house yet, as if I did I believe it would fall over even more, maybe even fall on my neighbor Mike's house. The lathes and plaster are helping to keep it from leaning more, or at least that is what a few people who know about structural engineering have commented.

But this question of the size of the New New Orleans is very contentious. It seems also that race plays a role. In Orleans Parish, if you were Black you were statistically more likely to have lost your home to the flood than if you were white. And many plans to rebuild New Orleans use terms like "smaller footprint" for the new city, meaning many predominantly African American neighborhoods won't be allowed to rebuild. The plan is to try to come up with 100% compenstation for the homes that won't be allowed to be rebuilt, though this depends on the passage of the Baker Bill. However, even if I received full equity for my home, which cost $157,000 when I purchased it three years ago, and before the flood was worth about $215,000, with that money I could only buy half the home in New Orleans these days. Prices have nearly doubled in some neighborhoods. It is fairly complicated, but you can read more about the Bring New Orleans Back Commission's report in today's lead story in the Times Picayune.


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