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Red Lines and Keep Out Signs: 300 Years of Discrimination, Divestment & Displacement In New Orleans

Posted on 24. Apr, 2018 by

Amidst the excitement of celebrating New Orleans’ tricentennial, GNOFHAC is taking a look at 300 years of housing policy and housing segregation in New Orleans.

New Orleans is a special place that is rich with culture and tradition but, like many cities in the United States, New Orleans also has deep racial divides. The Data Center’s new article, “Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk,” lays out how the segregation that we see today is rooted in discriminatory housing policies and practices that are as old as the city.

From only allowing wealthy white settlers to build above sea level (therefore denying African American communities access to housing that doesn’t face environmental risk), to racially discriminatory zoning policies, to restrictive covenants that stated in the deeds for homes that they could only be sold to white families, New Orleans’ history helps us understand the persistence of housing segregation today.

Policy decisions made during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina further deepened these inequalities. New Orleans had a unique opportunity to reverse many of the long-standing patterns of residential racial segregation using the billions of recovery dollars the city received to rebuild. However, instead local, state and federal policy makers chose policies that “repeated or amplified existing patterns of separation and inequality.” One such example was the Road Home program which based grant amounts on pre-storm market value rather than the actual cost to rebuild. As a result, residents in majority white, wealthier neighborhoods were able rebuild while African American homeowners with lower property values found it difficult to return home.

Now, as we welcome a new city council and mayor to office, we must continue to push for policies that say no to segregation and encourage inclusion.

To learn more, join GNOFHAC for a panel discussion about the findings of the new Data Center report, Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk, on April 26th from 6-8pm at Propeller Incubator, 4035 Washington Ave.

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