First Post-Katrina American Housing Survey of Metropolitan New Orleans

First Post-Katrina American Housing Survey of Metropolitan New Orleans

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While fewer families remain in transition, we’re seeing significant increases in the cost of housing, especially for lower and middle-income renters.
—  Dr. Raphael Bostic, HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research

Fischer Public Housing built after Hurricane Katrina. Since 2004, the year before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans metropolitan area has lost 75,000 housing units, or nearly 13 percent of its housing stock. That same timeframe has seen the median monthly cost of housing rose by nearly one-third. These are among the key findings of the 2009 New Orleans Metropolitan Area Housing Survey, the most comprehensive analysis of the area’s housing stock since 2004. The survey, based on in-depth interviews with residents of approximately 3,000 housing units, provides a critical point of comparison and offers a detailed progress report on redevelopment of the area, which includes Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and St. Tammany Parishes.

Key findings in the 2009 New Orleans Metropolitan Area Housing Survey highlight the composition of the housing stock, housing damage, mobility effects of Katrina, and monthly housing costs.

Housing Stock

In 2009, the New Orleans metro area had 512,000 residential housing units, compared with 587,000 units in 2004. This 13-percent decline is largely explained by demolition activity, particularly of older, single-family attached homes built before 1979. In addition, the metro area saw approximately 24,700 new homes constructed between 2004 and 2009. With the loss of many older homes and the addition of newly built units, the median year of construction of the area’s housing stock is currently 1972, compared with a median of 1960 prior to Hurricane Katrina. HUD’s 2009 survey also indicates that an estimated 72,500 housing units are vacant in the New Orleans metro area.

Housing Damage

Of the 252,000 owner-occupied housing units that sustained damage during Hurricane Katrina, 90 percent have undergone repair through private insurance payouts, federal flood insurance, or homeowner assistance grants provided through Louisiana’s HUD-funded Road Home program. More than 52 percent of owners of damaged units reoccupied their homes, whereas only 25 percent of homeowners reoccupied their severely damaged units. More than 18,000 area homeowners have elevated, or intend to elevate, their homes.

Mobility Effects

Hurricane Katrina forced more than 307,000 households to move from their homes and share housing with others, primarily family and friends. Since Katrina, almost 59,000 families have moved once, 95,000 families have moved twice, 77,000 families have moved three times, and more than 68,000 households have moved as many as 10 times. In 2009, more than 38,000 families still considered themselves in transition.

Monthly Housing Costs

The median monthly cost of housing in the New Orleans metro area was $882 in 2009, compared with $662 in 2004 (in 2009 dollars), a jump of 33.2 percent. Although the cost of both owner- and renter-occupied units significantly increased, this trend is largely attributed to the decline of mid-priced units ($300 to $600 monthly) from 66,300 in 2004 to just 19,300 in 2009. The median rent charged to New Orleans-area tenants was $689 in 2004, compared with $876 in 2009, an increase of 27 percent. The total number of renter households declined by 32,000 from 2004 to 2009, whereas the number of worst-case-needs renter households grew by nearly 6,500, or 22 percent. “Worst case needs” refers to very low-income, unassisted renter households who paid more than half their income on rent, lived in severely inadequate housing, or both.

The Census Bureau expects to release a comprehensive narrative report on these data later this fall. In addition, HUD and the Census Bureau will conduct yet another survey in the New Orleans metropolitan area in 2011 to gain further insight into the area’s housing recovery since 2009.

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