Aug 31, 2009
It is four years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. For the poor, the devastation remains unrepaired. The wealthy have rebuilt New Orleans – the way they want it.
They have taken over the public school system, dividing it into three very separate and very unequal parts – with disproportionate amounts of public money going to the schools serving the wealthiest children. For the working people, there are two applicants for every one seat in a school.
The New York Times published a revealing set of figures showing how the wealthy have managed the “rebuilding.” Since 2007, conditions for the workers and the poor have stagnated. Whether it’s the number of jobs available, or the unemployment, or the vacant and abandoned houses, or lack of public transit or public schools, there has been little or no improvement.
There are only half as many child care centers as before Katrina, and only two-thirds as many schools. And unemployment jumped back up this year, despite the sixty-some-thousand derelict houses – needing workers to tear them down and rebuild them.
The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the New Orleans metro area is now $949, compared to $676 before Katrina.
It’s a picture of the gentrification of a whole city.
The wealthy lords of the city took advantage of Katrina to rebuild in their own image, for their own enjoyment. They have excluded large parts of the poor and the black population, the very people to whom New Orleans owed its culture and traditions.