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New Orleans: Some Still in Transition

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On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept into the city of New Orleans, leaving a wake of destroyed homes and more than 400,000 displaced residents. Five years after the storm, some of those who remain in New Orleans are still in temporary lodgings, though most have settled into permanent homes.

Data from the 2009 American Housing Survey contucted by the Census Bureau on behalf of HUD, sheds some light for planners and sociologists on the extent of the displacement suffered by the residents of the metropolitan area. The survey provides the first comprehensive look at the length of time residents were displaced, number and types of places they lived in while they were homeless and if they are permanently settled now. The information was collected between July and November 2009.

About four in every five who lived in the area at the time of the hurricane reported they moved away from the area for at least a couple of weeks, relocating a median of two times. A majority of those who had to relocate — 83 percent — reported staying in a house or apartment during their displacement. However, 31 percent had to make more unconventional living arrangements, and they lived in a hotel, motel, or cruise ship during that time.

A number of these respondents ─ 31,500, or 7 percent of the metro area’s households ─ still did not consider themselves to be permanently settled even some four years after the disaster. Those still in transition tend to be younger, are more likely to be renters, blacks and those earning low incomes (see table below).

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