Thursday, March 6, 2008

Half of New Orleans's Poor Permanently Bill Quigley

Image (The Recovery Process Explained) borrowed from Toulouse, Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans at (image not connected with the article by Bill Quigley)
Half of New Orleans's Poor Permanently Displaced - Failure or Success?
by Bill Quigley
TruthOut Perspective
March 6, 2008
Government reports confirm that half of the working poor, elderly and disabled who lived in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina have not returned. Because of critical shortages in low-cost housing, few now expect tens of thousands of poor and working people to ever be able to return home.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) reports Medicaid, medical assistance for aged, blind, disabled and low-wage working families, is down 46 percent from pre-Katrina levels. DHH reports before Katrina there were 134,249 people in New Orleans on Medicaid. February 2008 reports show participation down to 72,211 (a drop of 62,038 since Katrina). Medicaid is down dramatically in every category: by 50 percent for the aged, 53 percent for the blind, 48 percent for the disabled and 52 percent for children.

The Social Security Administration documents that fewer than half the elderly have returned. New Orleans was home to 37,805 retired workers who received Social Security before Katrina; now there are 18,940 - a 50 percent reduction. Before Katrina, there were 12,870 disabled workers receiving Social Security disability benefits in New Orleans, now there are 5,350 - that's 59 percent fewer. Before Katrina, there were 9,425 widowers in New Orleans receiving Social Security survivors benefits; now there are less than half that many - 4,140.

Children of working-class families have not returned. Public school enrollment in New Orleans was 66,372 before Katrina. Latest figures are 32,149 - a 52 percent reduction.