New Orleans on a roll, but 9th Ward stymied 9 years after Katrina

Published: Aug. 30, 2014 at 1:07 AM CDT
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The city of New Orleans is on a roll.

Property values are skyrocketing across the city, but the Lower Ninth Ward continues to lag.

"The recovery rate is 34 percent; the rest of the city is 90 percent," said Marla Nelson in the Urban Planning Department at UNO.

The Ninth Ward, like other parts of town, was devastated. Virtually every home on the lake side of St. Claude Avenue was flooded to the eaves, and above.

But despite millions of dollars in plans and the availability of hundreds of millions in Road Home recovery money, many have not to returned.

"The pay outs were insufficient. It was tied to pre-Katrina assessments and not rebuilding costs," said Nelson.

One of the original plans completed after Katrina, the Bring New Orleans Back plan, called for the neighborhood to become green space. People threw it away and took matters into their own hands.

Armed with higher Road Home payments and a determination to survive, Broadmoor became one of the first neighborhoods to come back, followed by Lakeview, Gentilly, Mid-City, and lately portions of New Orleans East.

"The comeback has exceeded expectations, but it's unlikely we will get back to $600,000," said Nelson.

The Ninth Ward is getting a small grocery store and a new high school, but for now, it continues to lag.

"This is just the beginning. We got a long way to go," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

And some question whether a program to sell Ninth Ward lots for $100 each will help.

"When you look at cheap property, people will say, 'Wow, I can buy a lot in New Orleans for $100.' But then they don't do anything to it," said Nelson.

And that could wind up making Ninth Ward recovery even slower than it already is.

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