In The News › Report: New Orleans “staged” for recovery but faces challenges

Aug 25, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

Report: New Orleans “staged” for recovery but faces challenges

Report: New Orleans ‘staged’ for recovery, but faces challenges

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nearly a year after floodwaters inundated this city, New Orleans is
“staged” for a sustainable recovery, a demographer said in a new report.

However, the city faces a host of challenges, with a lack of affordable housing a major obstacle
for many workers and “impeding the recovery of the city,” Greg Rigamer, chief executive officer
of GCR & Associates Inc., said in the report.

Average rents have risen about 40 percent since Hurricane Katrina, and the average selling
price of homes in areas not affected by flooding rose about 25 percent since the storm, he wrote.
The paper, which takes a look at New Orleans nearly a year after Katrina hit, was presented to
the mayor and city council members Friday.

Rigamer said considerable progress has been made, given the extent of the flooding and
damage, but he said it’s not enough to call it “acceptable for a long-term profile.”
“Nothing can be done without leadership,” he said in an interview.

Investments in infrastructure should lead to community investment, from businesses and others,
he said. Once people see evidence of this, they’ll be more at ease with returning — or simply
coming, he said.

Janet Howard, president of a nonpartisan New Orleans-based research group the Bureau of
Governmental Research, said the key is government spending money wisely. She doesn’t
believe the city has the procedures in place for that to happen and said there seems to be a
“cultural fear” of setting priorities.

“We end up too often with wish lists instead of going to the next level,” said Howard, who had not
seen Rigamer’s report.

Mayor Ray Nagin and local officials focused on many of the positives of the past year, from
green space to the number of potholes being filled on city streets. “Our glass is half full,” city
councilman Oliver Thomas said.

Rigamer said in his report that the city is making a comeback and addressing “fundamental”
recovery issues, such as infrastructure. Sales tax collections in several neighboring parishes are
above pre-Katrina levels; in the city, they’re about 75 percent what it was before Katrina, the
report said.

But challenges remain, from limited water pressure and severe leaks in many parts of New
Orleans to fewer hospitals in operation than before the storm and limited housing, the report

Howard said high cost of living — from home, utility and insurance costs — is a key issue that
must be addressed. She also believes the city has failed by not more readily identifying parts of
the city that could be redeveloped. 8/25/2006

Aug 25, 2006

Source: Times-Picayune

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