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Most Katrina Evacuees Say Won’t Go Back

The New York Times says the vast majority of New Orleans blacks might not return to their beloved chocolate city on the Mighty Mississippi.

Study Says 80% of New Orleans Blacks May Not Return

January 27, 2006

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 — New Orleans could lose as much as 80 percent of its black population if its most damaged neighborhoods are not rebuilt and if there is not significant government assistance to help poor people return, a detailed analysis by Brown University has concluded.

Combining data from the 2000 census with federal damage assessment maps, the study provides a new level of specificity about Hurricane Katrina's effect on the city's worst-flooded areas, which were heavily populated by low-income black people.

Of the 354,000 people who lived in New Orleans neighborhoods where the subsequent damage was moderate to severe, 75 percent were black, 29 percent lived below the poverty line, more than 10 percent were unemployed, and more than half were renters, the study found.

The report's author, John R. Logan, concluded that as much as 80 percent of the city's black population might not return for several reasons: their neighborhoods would not be rebuilt, they would be unable to afford the relocation costs, or they would put down roots in other cities.

For similar reasons, as much as half of the city's white population might not return, Dr. Logan concluded.

"The continuing question about the hurricane is this: Whose city will be rebuilt?" Dr. Logan, a professor of sociology, writes in the report.

If the projections are realized, the New Orleans population will shrink to about 140,000 from its prehurricane level of 484,000, and the city, nearly 70 percent black before the storm, will become majority white.

The study, financed by a grant from the National Science Foundation, was released Thursday, 10 days after the mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin, who is black, told an audience that "this city will be a majority African-American city; it's the way God wants it to be."

Mr. Nagin's remark was widely viewed as an effort to address criticism of a proposal by his own rebuilding panel, the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, that calls for a four-month building moratorium in heavily damaged areas. He said later that he had not meant to suggest that white people would not be encouraged to return.

"Certainly Mayor Nagin's comments reflected a concern on the ground about the future of the city," Dr. Logan said. "My report shows that there is a basis for that concern."

The study coincides with growing uncertainty about what government assistance will be available for property owners and renters. Louisiana will receive $6.2 billion in federal block grants under an aid package approved by Congress in December, part of which will be used to help homeowners. But that will not be enough money to help all property owners in storm-damaged areas, Louisiana officials say.

Those officials have urged Congress to enact legislation proposed by Representative Richard H. Baker, Republican of Louisiana, creating a corporation that would use bond proceeds to reimburse property owners for part of their mortgages, then redevelop the property. But the Bush administration has said it opposes the bill, out of concerns that it would be too expensive and would create a new government bureaucracy.

Asked Thursday about his opposition to the measure, President Bush told reporters that the $85 billion already allocated for Gulf Coast restoration was "a good start." He added that he was concerned that Louisiana did not have a clear recovery plan in place.

But Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana, a Democrat who has clashed frequently with the White House, said Mr. Baker's bill provided a clear plan.

"Administration officials do not understand the suffering of the people of Louisiana," Ms. Blanco said in a statement.

Demographers are divided over the likelihood of a drastic shift in New Orleans's population. William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who has studied the hurricane's impact on the city, called Dr. Logan's projections "a worst-case scenario that will come about only if these evacuees see that they have no voice in what is going on."

But Dr. Frey also said low-income evacuees might indeed begin to put down roots in cities like Houston or Dallas if they did not see movement toward reconstruction in the next six months.

Elliott B. Stonecipher, a political consultant and demographer from Shreveport, La., said that unless New Orleans built housing in flood-protected areas for low-income residents, and also provided support for poor people to relocate, chances were good that many low-income blacks would not return.

"If they didn't have enough resources to get out before the storm," Mr. Stonecipher said, "how can we expect them to have the wherewithal to return?"

But according to many reports, such as this from the Houston Chronicle, that might not be such great news to their new neighbors:

Police arrest 8 in connection with 11 Houston-area homicides

Jan. 27, 2006, 12:10PM

Houston police have arrested eight of 11 people believed to be involved in nine homicides in the city's southwest side and two others in Pasadena since last November.

The arrests come just a few weeks after HPD acknowledged the surge in violent crime last year was linked to evacuees relocating here after Hurricane Katrina.

Police said the arrests were part of an initiative recently launched to investigate homicides believed related to gang activity.

In analyzing some recent cases in the southwest Houston area, police said today that several involved Louisiana suspects who relocated to Houston following Hurricane Katrina.

Police today said those suspects arrested were associated with two different gangs in New Orleans and continued their rivalry here.

Those in custody are:

• Kalvin Forcell, 21, charged with murder in a fatal shooting at 9373 Richmond e on Nov. 20;

• Alvin Sims, 20,charged with capital murder in a fatal shooting of two Louisiana men at 8901 Bissonnet on Dec. 31;

• Jason McMaster, 24, charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping;

• Cornelius Gordon, 21, charged with engaging in organized crime and possession of a weapon;

• Daryl Robinson, 27, charged with murder in a fatal shooting at 11555 Bissonnet on Dec. 25;

• Tyler Mackyeon, 23, charged with deadly conduct and aggravated robbery;

• James Taylor, 24, charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle;

• Keith Ron Williams, 20, charged with assault-family violence.

Investigators are also asking for help in locating the three suspects not already in custody. They are:

• Ivroy Harris, 20;

• Travis Jordan, 21;

• and Terrence Richards, 20.

Harris is charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping in the 339th State District Court. Jordan is charged with aggravated robbery and Richards is charged with evading detention in a Webster Police Department case.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the three wanted suspects is being asked to contact HPD at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, January 27th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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