3. “Tragedy or Triumph in Post-Katrina New Orleans?” by John A. Lovett

View PDF

May 14th, 2013

Tragedy or Triumph in Post-Katrina New Orleans? Reflections on Possession, Dispossession, Demographic Change and Affordable Housing

                                          John A. Lovett*φ


Carol Necole Brown and Serena M. Williams’s 2007 article, The Houses that Eminent Domain and Housing Tax Credits Built: Imagining a Better New Orleans,[1] the impetus for this three way dialogue, typifies what might be called the “second wave” of post-Katrina commentary.  Rather than ask how the physical and social devastation unleashed by the storm had come came to pass, Brown and Williams focus on policy tools that might heal the city’s historic inequality.  To rebuild the region’s stock of affordable rental housing—one of the key pieces of social infrastructure necessary for a healthier and more just New Orleans—they specifically argue that policy makers should collaborate with developers in public-private partnerships by using a “smart” version of eminent domain to site and create regionally dispersed, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) -financed, mixed income housing developments.

Like many housing scholars, Brown and Williams believe the federal government and the states should require suburban municipalities and counties (or parishes in Louisiana’s case) to initiate and accept their “fair share” of new affordable housing developments so that economically disadvantaged households can escape the burdens of traditional ghettos and take advantage of the presumed social, economic and educational opportunities available in middle class communities.[2]  Although their prescription for achieving social justice through the regionalization of tax credit-financed, affordable housing is certainly not unique,[3] what is different about their proposal, in addition to their focus on New Orleans, is their overt call for eminent domain to play a role in the dispersal of affordable housing.

This focus on eminent domain in the post-Katrina context made sense at the time Brown and Williams were writing.  As they recount, many property owners in New Orleans were afraid that eminent domain would be used to take away their homes to implement urban planners’ initial post-Katrina suggestions that large parts of the city be turned into natural flood basins and green space.[4]  Further, the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London,[5] issued just two months prior to Katrina, had sparked a heated national debate over the propriety of economic development takings.[6]

Just like many other states, Louisiana reacted angrily to the Kelo decision and amended its state constitution to ban the use of eminent domain (or “expropriation” as it is called in Louisiana) for economic development purposes.[7]  Although the amended portion of the constitution continued to authorize traditional blight takings to eliminate a threat to public health or safety,[8] the amendments further prevented an expropriating authority from transferring any expropriated property to another private owner unless the property was first offered back to the original owner at its current fair market value, and, if this offer was not accepted, then to the public at large through a competitive auction.[9]

After warnings that Louisiana’s post-Kelo amendments would frustrate post-Katrina redevelopment efforts in New Orleans,[10] and a test case filed by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), the city’s leading redevelopment agency, failed to yield a satisfactory result,[11] in 2010 the Louisiana legislature finally enacted (and state voters narrowly approved) another constitutional amendment that expressly exempted property acquired through blight takings from the onerous right of first refusal and public auction requirements.[12]  Today, therefore, redevelopment authorities like NORA can expropriate blighted property and freely transfer it to private third parties.

Ironically, though, eminent domain has not turned out to be a central tool in the effort to create affordable housing in the New Orleans region.  One reason is that mixed income housing developers found plenty of well-situated, large parcels of land for housing redevelopment without having to resort to eminent domain for land assembly.  New Orleans’ former public housing projects, which the city decided to demolish in late 2007,[13] provided one ready pool of such parcels whose title was already in public hands.  Many other under-utilized, inexpensive parcels were also available throughout the city for smaller scale, LIHTC financed projects.  In addition, NORA, as it turned out, did not really need eminent domain either, as it has been acquiring thousands of small, widely dispersed parcels across the city for free from the Louisiana Land Trust, the state entity that received properties from homeowners who accepted a buy-out offer under the state’s Road Home Homeowner Assistance Program.[14]

Eminent domain has been used for other purposes in post-Katrina New Orleans.  The city and the State of Louisiana deployed it to acquire (and then demolish) what had been a twenty-six-block neighborhood near downtown and the old Charity Hospital to make way for a massive, $2 billion medical center that will feature a new Veterans Administration hospital and LSU Medical School teaching hospital.[15]  Whether this daunting act of dispossession actually yields the public benefits that are expected remains to be seen.


Brown and Williams’ recommendation that policy makers adopt a regional approach in siting new mixed income, LIHTC-financed housing developments,[16] was inspired by a concern, echoed powerfully in the last few years by Stacy E. Seicshnaydre[17] and J. William Callison,[18] that the LIHTC program, though clearly well motivated by a desire to increase production of affordable housing units, tends to replicate pre-existing patterns of racial and economic segregation.[19]  In response, Brown and Williams advocated citing LIHTC projects in “opportunity-rich, mixed-income neighborhoods,” particularly in well-established suburbs or in inner city areas undergoing gentrification.[20]

Seicshnaydre, for her part, has argued recently that Louisiana officials have failed to regionalize affordable housing and continued down what she calls the “path of least resistance” by locating the vast majority of new or replacement subsidized rental units in poorer parts of Orleans Parish.[21]  She primarily blames suburban politicians, who respond to their constituents’ fears of integration by implementing exclusionary zoning to prevent the construction of rental housing in general, and affordable rental housing in particular.[22]  Her examples, drawn from the surrounding communities of St. Bernard Parish, Terrytown and Kenner in Jefferson Parish, and from the New Orleans East neighborhood of Orleans Parish itself, are certainly dramatic examples of localized resistance to regionalizing affordable housing options.[23]

In her intervention in this debate, The Failure of Our Good Intentions: Property and Dispossession, Kali Murray takes Seicshnaydre’s account at face value and thus assumes that Brown and Williams’ optimistic recommendations for coordinating eminent domain with LIHTC-financed affordable housing in a geographically dispersed pattern have failed.[24]  She offers a theoretical explanation for this perceived failure—property law’s tendency to focus too much on possession and not enough on the consequences of dispossession, particularly historical dispossession.[25]  In their response to Murray, Brown and Williams draw creatively from other aspects of property law—adverse possession and mortgage foreclosure in particular—to show that concerns about dispossession are currently surfacing elsewhere in property discourse, even if these concerns appear more often as cross-currents or eddies running against the general tide.[26]

Reading the recent contributions of Murray, and Brown and Williams, along with Callison and Seichshnaydre, one senses that their collective disappointment with past efforts to create affordable housing in ways that create more equal opportunity in New Orleans and elsewhere has lead them to endorse a stronger, even more active government role in the planning, siting and financing of affordable housing developments in metropolitan areas across the country.  Their endorsement of greater government intervention reflects  a desire to overcome the localized resistance of the kind that Seicshnaydre depicts, and to reverse some of the perverse incentives that exist under the current LIHTC regime.[27]  However, before we endorse their prescriptions, we should consider several recent developments.


First, we need to acknowledge that the LIHTC program, supplemented as it was by additional tax credits and Community Development Block Grant funds made available to Louisiana after Katrina, has, in fact, resulted in the production of a substantial amount of new affordable housing in the New Orleans region.  Since 2006 the Louisiana Housing Finance Authority has funded approximately 140 new multi-family projects in the New Orleans area, 104 of which are located in Orleans Parish.[28]  These projects in turn have yielded 9,732 units planned, constructed or actually rented out in New Orleans.[29]  Across the city, 7,373 of these LIHTC-funded units are rent restricted and targeted for low-income households.[30]  This means that tens of thousands of people now have access to newly constructed, rent-restricted units in medium to large, multi-family developments in New Orleans.[31]

These developments are situated all across the City of New Orleans, but the majority (71%) are located in just four planning districts (Mid-City, Garden District/Central City, New Orleans East, and Algiers).[32]  Although generally not in the suburbs, these locations are far from irrational.  Most are in close proximity to downtown New Orleans, one of the region’s three primary job clusters,[33] and where a huge new public investment in the health care industry is now taking place.  They are also generally located along well-established corridors with easy access to public transit.[34]  Furthermore, the mixed income structure of these developments has not been an impediment to leasing, as reports indicate high occupancy levels for both market rate and affordable units.[35]

Certainly the most controversial use of LIHTC (and HOPE VI) financing in New Orleans was for the post-Katrina redevelopment of the city’s “Big-Four” public housing projects and the redevelopment of the St. Thomas housing project, which actually began before Katrina but continued afterwards.  The battle over the “Big Four,” dramatized in the HBO series “Tremé,”[36] unified historic preservationists with housing advocates for the poor and has been described as emblematic of “disaster capitalism.”[37]  On the other hand, Goldman Sachs claims to have been a catalyst for community transformation through its role as lead investor for the redevelopment of one of the Big Four.[38]

When I visit these mixed income developments, I am struck by their human scale, their integration with the city’s historic street grid, their New Urbanist aesthetics,[39] and their pervasive sense of orderliness, which to many New Orleans residents of all walks of life is a welcome contrast with the violence and social disorder that was associated with the projects before HOPE VI and Katrina.  Yet, as the following table shows, it is indisputable that the total number of subsidized, affordable housing units in these particular developments has been reduced.


Table 1: New Orleans Public Housing Redevelopments

Housing Development

Original Number of Units

Current Number of Units

Current Number of Subsidized  (Below Market Rate) Housing Units

BW Cooper (Formerly named Calliope)

1550 477 477

Columbia Parc (Formerly named St. Bernard)

1464 515 174

Faubourg Lafitte (Formerly named Lafitte)

896 349 141

Harmony Oaks (Formerly named CJ Peete / Magnolia)

1403 468 193

River Garden on Felicity Street (Formerly named St. Thomas)

1510 740 182


993 483 468


858 913 304+[40]

William J. Fisher

1002 347 185

The Estates (Formerly named Desire)

1860 425 283
Data obtained from Housing Authority of New Orleans Web site, “Communities” tab.[41]


Excluding the historic Iberville project , whose redevelopment under the Obama Administration’s Choice Initiative’s program has not yet begun,[42] 2103 (column 2, Table 1) (or 55%) of the 3804 (column 1, Table 1) new or replacement units resulting from the redevelopment of these projects are “public” or subsidized in the sense that they are rent restricted.[43]  This represents a sure step in the direction of de-concentration of poverty, but at the price of less overall access to project-based affordable units.


LIHTC-financed mixed income developments are far from the only means of providing affordable housing in post-Katrina New Orleans.  Tenant based support provided through the federal government’s Housing Voucher program (formerly known as Section 8) has also become more widely available since Katrina.  Before the storm, approximately 9000 vouchers were available through the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), but by 2010 more than 15,000 vouchers had become available.[44]  Today, more than 17,000 vouchers are available through HANO.[45]  Although even more vouchers are needed in the region,[46] it is notable that the majority of vouchers (at least 14,000 of the 15,000 available in 2010) are being used for smaller structures, including small complexes, doubles, triples, and single-family homes, indicating a potential preference for smaller scale rental settings.[47]

Before we consider the implications of this dramatic increase in vouchers in New Orleans, we should also take note of an important article by Robert Ellickson that argues vouchers represent a more effective and equitable means of subsidizing rental housing than tax credit financed, mixed income developments.[48]  To support his general argument in favor of what he calls “demand-side subsidies,”[49] Ellickson argues that vouchers are more efficient than project based, mixed income developments because the latter (1) entail significantly higher production costs,[50] (2) give developers little incentive to produce quality units and maintain them,[51] and (3) produce deadweight costs and lock-in effects because tenants cannot exchange their subsidized leaseholds and move to locations and designs better suited to their personal preferences.[52]  Interestingly, Ellickson justifies this last claim in part by citing a study of New Orleans public housing residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina who indicated by a 2 to 1 ratio that they would prefer to receive housing vouchers than return to their former projects.[53]

Ellickson also argues that tenant based, portable housing vouchers are more equitable than project based aid in two respects.  On the one hand, he contends that vouchers can more readily achieve “vertical equity” because they can be directed at the lowest income households most in need of support, whereas many LIHTC developments and other project based units are actually aimed at (and consumed by) households much higher up the income ladder, indeed often solidly in the middle class.[54]  On the other hand, Ellickson argues that vouchers hold out the prospect of “horizontal equity,” i.e., they could more easily be turned into “new property” entitlements guaranteed to every qualified household at a certain income level.[55]

Finally, Ellickson challenges the common assumption that mixed income housing developments actually deliver large enough positive externalities in terms of increased social capital to outweigh the inefficiencies and inequities he sees in project based aid.  He points to studies questioning whether mixed income developments actually provide much occasion for lower income households to develop “bridging social capital” with higher income groups, at least at the level of the individual residential block, and to studies suggesting that vouchers are more likely to lead to economic and racial integration and to provide users with a sense of having improved their neighborhood setting.[56]  While he acknowledges that racial and economic integration of neighborhoods produces positive social benefits, Ellickson fundamentally questions whether those benefits are as “large as previously thought.”[57]  At bottom, Ellickson wants policy makers to acknowledge that some individuals, whether motivated by concerns about relative status, fear of discrimination, or more positive affinities, “may affirmatively prefer to live amidst people like themselves.”[58]  Portable housing vouchers, he believes, would serve these persons’ interests better than mixed income developments.

Although Ellickson’s argument in support of vouchers is intriguing because of their apparent “freedom promoting” promise,[59] I remain skeptical that they can carry the burden of achieving racial and economic equality of opportunity all by themselves.  For one thing, many landlords discriminate against voucher holders, thus preventing them from actually exercising real housing choice.[60]  Furthermore, it is not at all clear that the increased number of vouchers distributed by HANO is leading to significant racial (or even economic) desegregation in New Orleans.  The largest concentrations of voucher use in the city are found in three planning districts – (New Orleans East (3923), Mid-City (2886) and Algiers (2128)—areas that also feature a significant number of LIHTC financed mixed income developments.[61]  Although these broad planning districts do contain integrated, middle class neighborhoods, suggesting that some voucher holders are undoubtedly moving to neighborhoods with less racial segregation and less concentrated poverty, my review of voucher use data at the actual neighborhood level reveals that patterns of racial segregation are not easily overcome through voucher distribution alone.  In fact, as Table Two below shows, the ten New Orleans neighborhoods with the highest number of voucher households are overwhelmingly African American, while nine out of the ten neighborhoods with the lowest number of voucher households are predominantly white.[62]


Table 2: Voucher Use and African American Population Percentages[63]

Ten Neighborhoods with Highest Number of Voucher Holders


Number of Voucher Holders as of 12/22/2010 and Percentage of All Voucher Holders

African American Population Percentage Based on 2010 Census

Little Woods 2588 – 16.9%   92.6%
Seventh Ward (Mid-City) 807 – 5.3%   87.4%
Mid-City 754 – 4.9%   55.0%
Behrman 696 – 4.5%   81.5%
Central City 674 – 4.4%   72.4%
Tall Timbers – Brechtel 601 – 3.9%   69.8%
St. Roch 524 – 3.4%   86.8%
Gentily Terrace 517 – 3.4%   77.8%
St. Claude 484 – 3.2%   81.1%
St. Anthony 364 – 2.3%   73.3%
West Lake Forest 347 – 2.3%   95.7%
Broadmoor 318 – 2.1%   61.1%



Ten Neighborhoods with Lowest Number of Voucher Holders


Number of Voucher Holders as of 12/22/2010

African American Population Percentage Based on 2010 Census

Lakewood 1   4.0%
Garden District 1   3.2%
Lake Catherine 2   6.3%
Lakeshore – Lake Vista 5   2.1%
Touro 5   14.5%
Lower Garden District 5   18.9%
Audubon 7   4.8%
B.W. Cooper 8   90.8%[64]
French Quarter 9   4.4%
Central Business District 9   23.1%

This data suggests that many voucher holders are—for any number of reasons—not moving to more racially diverse neighborhoods, even though they may be moving to neighborhoods with somewhat lower levels of poverty.[65]  Does this undermine or support Ellickson’s bold claims?  The only thing that is clear is that we need further investigation to understand the effect this voucher distribution surge is having on the quality of voucher holders’ lives and access to opportunity.

Finally, it is worth noting that in many communities across the United States, the physical stock of affordable rental housing declined markedly in recent years, whether as a result of “natural” disasters like Katrina, economic crises or general neighborhood decline.  These communities may not be able to wait for “demand-side” subsidies to work the market magic that proponents like Ellickson believe they can deliver.


Moving beyond affordable housing production and increased voucher use, we also need to consider data and trends emerging from the 2010 census.  Let’s start with the New Orleans region.  Two pieces of information are most striking.  First, it is indisputable that Hurricane Katrina exacted a heavy toll on African Americans in New Orleans.  By 2010 the city’s total population had stabilized at 343,829, but there were 118,000 fewer African Americans living in the city than in 2000.  This translates to a decline from 67% of the city’s population in 2000 to 60% in 2010.[66]  Although some of these residents would have left New Orleans even if Hurricane Katrina had never struck, it cannot be denied that the storm resulted in the involuntary and now more or less permanent displacement of thousands of African Americans from their native city.

Second, it is now clear that the entire New Orleans metropolitan area has become more racially diverse.  Consider the following statistics, all drawn from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center,[67] or directly from the U.S. Census Bureau:[68]

  • Jefferson Parish, the region’s most populous parish with 432,552 residents, saw its non-Hispanic white population percentage decline from 80% in 1980 to only 56% in 2010.[69]  Asians now make up 4.0%, Hispanics 12.7%, and African-Americans 27.0% of its total population.[70]
  • Terrytown and Kenner, the two Jefferson Parish municipalities whose exclusionary zoning practices Seicshnaydre depicts so vividly, are now both majority-minority communities.[71]
  • St. Bernard Parish, whose political leadership sought to block any increase in rental housing as well as a modest affordable housing project, saw its non-Hispanic white population percentage decline from 87% in 1980 to 69% in 2010.[72]  African-Americans now make up 19.4% of its population and Hispanics 9.4%.[73]


Further afield in New Orleans’ exurbs and along the I-10 corridor, other parishes also saw increases in their minority populations and became more diverse:

  • Burgeoning St. Tammany Parish (pop. 233,740) gained over 7,500 new African American residents and 6,000 new Hispanic residents.[74]
  • St. Charles Parish (pop. 52,780) gained over 1,900 African-Americans and 1,300 Hispanics.[75]
  • St. John the Baptist Parish (pop.45,924), further up the Mississippi River, now has an African American majority of 53.6%, a non-Hispanic white population of just 40%, and a Hispanic population of 4.9%.[76]
  • East Baton Rouge Parish (now Louisiana’s most populous parish with 444,526 residents), and where many New Orleanians settled after Katrina, is today majority-minority, with non-Hispanic whites comprising only 46.7% of the population, African Americans 45.5%, Asians 3.0%, and Hispanics 3.8%.[77]


New Orleans geographer Richard Campanella has mapped these demographic changes at the individual census tract level, confirming the pervasive increase in the Hispanic population across the region and a general population shift up-river, towards Baton Rouge, along the I-10 corridor.[78]  Campanella also observes that Katrina and the demolition of New Orleans’ public housing projects account for a large portion of the black population decline in New Orleans but also notes that gentrification along the edges of what he calls “the White Teapot,” the belt of relatively wealthier, majority white neighborhoods running from the Carrolton area upriver through the University area, the Garden District, Warehouse District, French Quarter and into the Bywater area near the Industrial Canal, has also contributed to black population loss in the city.[79]

These emerging demographic realities in the New Orleans area generally match findings recently published by William H. Frey of the Brookings Institute,[80] and Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor at the Manhattan Institute.[81]  Frey’s report demonstrates how demographic patterns in the first decade of the twenty first century broke substantially from the past.  The key findings are that:

  • Minorities accounted for nearly all of the population growth, 98%, in large metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2010.  In 22 out of the 100 largest metro areas, they now account for more than half the population.  Meanwhile, in all of the 100 largest metro areas, the white population share declined.[82]
  • Hispanics are now the largest minority group in more than half of the 100 largest metro areas, and the Hispanic population grew throughout the 100 largest metro areas, in big coastal cities and midsize metro areas in the South and Midwest.[83]
  • The majority of the African-American population in the U.S. now lives in the South, where three quarters of all African American population increase over the last decade occurred.[84]
  • Although average neighborhood segregation levels remained relatively constant for Hispanics and Asians between 2000 and 2010, they actually declined for African Americans during this period, and this decline was geographically pervasive across the United States.[85]
  • Black segregation levels still vary significantly across metropolitan areas, with segregation tending to be most severe in the Northeast and Midwest, in cities like New York (78), Chicago (76), Detroit (75) and St. Louis (72), and less severe in southern metro areas with growing black populations like Houston (61), Dallas (57), Orlando (51), and Atlanta (49).[86]

Frey’s report also includes two interesting findings particular to New Orleans that put its experience in the past decade in a broader context:

  • Although the New Orleans metro area’s African-American population loss of 95,000 was anomalous for the South, other metro areas, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, coastal cities in California and other older industrial areas in the Midwest, also saw substantial, though not as severe, African American population declines.[87]
  • The level of black segregation in the New Orleans metro area, just like in the rest of the United States, actually declined over the last decade from 69 to 64.  Consequently, segregation levels in the New Orleans metro area are roughly the same as in Boston (64) and Memphis (63), but less than in many large cities in the Northeast and Midwest.[88]

Glaeser and Vigdor’s recent report for the Manhattan Institute, whose general findings largely mirror those of Frey,[89] has attracted more media attention primarily because of its provocative claim that racial segregation in U.S. cities is at its lowest level in more than a century.[90]  Like Frey, they explain the overall decline in segregation by pointing to (1) changes in government policies and racial attitudes following the civil rights movement and the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 and (2) individual decisions by many African-Americans to leave older, more segregated cities in the North and Midwest and move to less segregated Sun Belt cities and suburbs (what they call “interregional migration”).[91]  Perhaps surprising to some, Glaeser and Vigdor also give credit to government and banking changes that increased many minorities’ access to credit for home purchases and, despite the financial and foreclosure crises, still fostered greater mobility.[92]  Glaeser and Vigdor also draw attention to one other crucial demographic change affecting African-American communities and accounting for part of the decline in segregation indexes—dramatic population losses in older, formerly highly segregated neighborhoods (or ghettos) of the Northeast and Midwest.[93]

Other urban policy analysts, who have less rosy views of demographic change in the U.S., acknowledge this striking depopulation trend in America’s ghettos,[94] and even acknowledge that the total percentage of African Americans living in these traditional ghettos has declined from 33% in 1970 to just over 7% during the period 2005-2009.[95]  But they emphasize the severe racial and economic segregation still experienced by the smaller black populations who remain in these now depopulated ghettos after middle-class and working-class black residents departed.[96]  They also point out that concentrated poverty has risen substantially during this time period, that the number of people living in extreme-poverty tracts” (neighborhoods with poverty levels above 40%) increased from 7.1 million in 2000 to 9.2 million in 2009,[97] and that these increasing geographic concentrations of poverty are borne disproportionately by Hispanics, African Americans and by families that are already poor. .[98]

What emerges then is a demographic paradox.  Racial segregation does appear to be lessening across much of the United States.  Millions of African Americans have escaped the traditional ghettos that developed during the middle of the last century.  The suburbs, once exclusive bastions of white, middle class privilege, are themselves becoming more racially, ethnically and economically diverse.[99]  And yet there remain concentrated pockets of poverty in increasingly depopulated neighborhoods where African Americans and Hispanics predominate, and where opportunities for employment, education and social advancement are thin at best.


As we ponder the implications of all this change, we should realize that New Orleans offers us a ready-made laboratory to study the social and economic effects of increased investments in both tax credit-financed, mixed income developments and housing vouchers.  We need to form interdisciplinary teams of policy analysts, sociologists, geographers, lawyers and others to investigate the dramatic policy initiatives that Katrina spawned in the New Orleans region and to try to understand how these initiatives interact with broader demographic trends sweeping across the United States.



* De Van D. Daggett, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law.  I gratefully acknowledge the diligent research assistance of Laken Davis and the helpful comments of Larry Schedler, Rafe Rabelais, Joe Singer and Nestor Davidson.  All errors are those of the author.

φ Suggested Citation: John A. Lovett, Tragedy or Triumph in Post-Katrina New Orleans? Reflections on Possession, Dispossession, Demographic Change and Affordable Housing, 40 Fordham Urb. L.J. City Square 22 (2013), http://‌urb‌anlawjournal.‌com/?p=1188.

        [1].  Carol Necole Brown & Serena M. Williams, The Houses that Eminent Domain and Housing Tax Credits Built: Imagining a Better New Orleans, 34 Fordham Urb. L.J. 689 (2007).

        [2].  Id. at 694-96, 707, 710, 715-16.

        [3].  See, e.g., J. William Callison, Achieving Our Country: Geographic Desegregation and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, 19 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Soc. Just. 213 (2010) (calling for the use of low income housing tax credits to de-concentrate poverty and achieve equal opportunity in public education); David D. Troutt, Katrina’s Window: Localism, Resegregation, and Equitable Regionalism, 55 Buff. L. Rev. 1109 (2008) (endorsing a regionalized approach to affordable housing in the post-Katrina context).

        [4].  See Brown & Williams, supra note 1, at 701, 706.  For more on this anti-planning backlash, see Kristina Ford, The Trouble with City Planning 29-43 (Yale University Press 2010).

        [5].  545 U.S. 469 (2005).

        [6].  See, e.g., A Turning Point for Eminent Domain?, N.Y. Times, Nov. 12, 2009, http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/a-turning-point-for-eminent-domain/.

        [7].  La. Const. art. 1, § 4 (B)(1)(a)-(b) & (B)(3), amended by 2006 La. Acts 851, § 1.

        [8].  La. Const. art. 1, § 4 (B)(2)(c), amended by 2006 La. Acts 851, § 1.

        [9].  La. Const. art. 1, § 4 (H)(1), amended by 2006 La. Acts 859, § 1.

      [10].  See Frank S. Alexander, Louisiana Land Reform in the Storms’ Aftermath, 53 Loy. L. Rev. 727, 740-43 (2007); David A. Marcello, Housing Redevelopment Strategies in the Wake of Katrina and Anti-Kelo Constitutional Amendments: Mapping a Path Through the Landscape of Disaster, 53 Loy. L. Rev. 763, 771-89 (2007).

      [11].  New Orleans Redev. Auth. v. Burgess, 16 So.3d 569, 578-585 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. 2009) (holding that NORA could expropriate blighted property with intent to transfer to a private party, but declining to address constitutional provisions granting the original owner a right of first refusal and requiring a public auction because NORA and its potential transferee had not sought court authorization to transfer the lot in question), cert. denied, 18 So.3d 66 (La. 2009).

      [12].  2010 La. Acts 1052, amending La. Const. art. 1, § 4(H)(1).

      [13].  For the history and impact of the decision to demolish New Orleans’ “Big Four” public housing projects, see Richard Campanella, Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans 183-185 (2008); Davida Finger, Public Housing in New Orleans Post Katrina: The Struggle for Housing as a Human Right, 38 Rev. Black Polit. Econ. 327 (2011).

      [14].  See New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority Transition Report 4, available at http://www.noraworks.org/resources/studies-and-analytics; see also David Hammer, Sales of hurricane-damaged properties being held up by paperwork, Times Picayune, Mar. 23, 2012, available at http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/03/sales_of_hurricane-damaged_pro.html (recounting NORA’s current travails in acquiring and disposing of its Land Trust properties).

      [15].  For maps of the LSU-VA Medical Center footprint and a history of the controversial decision not to renovate the former Charity Hospital, see Inside the Footprint (Sept. 29, 2011), http://insidethefootprint.blogspot.com; see also Review the Plans, Save Charity Hospital, http://savecharityhospital.com/content/review-plans (last visited May 1, 2013).

      [16].  See Brown & Williams, supra note 1, at 715-17.

      [17].  See Stacy E. Seicshnaydre, How Government Housing Perpetuates Racial Segregation: Lessons from Post-Katrina New Orleans 60 Cath. U. L. Rev. 661, 676-77 (2011).

      [18].  See Callison, supra note 3, at 241-249 (providing an especially detailed analysis of this subject).

      [19].  Brown & Williams, supra note 1, at 710-11.

      [20].  Id. at 715-716.

      [21].  Seicshnaydre, supra note 17, at 686-87.

      [22].  See id. at 688-708.

      [23].  See id. at 693-704.

      [24].  Kali Murray, The Failure of Our Good Intentions: Property and Dispossession in Post-Katrina New Orleans, 39 Fordham Urb. L.J. City Square 101(2012), http://urbanlawjournal.com/?p=878.

      [25].  Id.

      [26].  Carole Necole Brown & Serena M. Williams, Post-Katrina Rebuilding as an Opportunity for a New Conversation: Dispossession as a Property Concept, 40 Fordham Urb. L.J. City Square 1 (2012), http://urbanlawjournal.com/?p=882.

      [27].  Callison, in particular, offers many detailed suggestions on how to improve incentives within the LIHTC program.  See Callison, supra note 3, at 255-62.

      [28].  Ivan Miestchovich, Jr., U. of New Orleans Inst. for Econ. Development and Real Estate Research, New Orleans Market Assessment: A Comprehensive Analysis of Demand and Supply Dynamics 54-55 (2011), available at http://doa.louisiana.gov/cdbg/DR/Reports/MarketStudy_Mar2011.pdf.

      [29].  Id. at 55 tbl. 24.

      [30].  Id. at 54- 55 tbl. 24.

      [31].  Importantly, this does not take into account more than 3,000 rent restricted units produced in two to four bedroom buildings in the region through Louisiana’s Road Home Small Rental Repair Program. Id. at 64, 70, 72 tbl. 35.

      [32].  Id.

      [33].  Allison Plyer & Richard Campanella, Greater New Orleans Community Data Center 2  Job Sprawl in Metro New Orleans, (July 3, 2010), available at http://www.gnocdc.org/JobSprawl/index.html.

      [34].  Miestchovich, Jr., supra note 28, at 57, 145 map.

      [35].  Id. at 57-58 (reporting 89% occupancy for market rate units and 96% for affordable units).

      [36].  Tremé (HBO 2010).

      [37].  Finger, supra note 13, at 331-32 (quoting Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine 411 (2008)).

      [38].  See Urban Investments: Harmony Oaks, Goldman Sachs, http://www.goldmansachs.com/what-we-do/investing-and-lending/urban-investments/case-studies/harmony.html (last visited May 1, 2013).

      [39].  See Doug MacCash, The Architecture of New Orleans’ Rebuilt Public Housing Gets Mixed Reviews, Times-Picayune, Feb. 13, 2011, available at http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/02/the_architecture_of_new_orlean.html.

      [40].  The remainder of the units in this Choice Initiatives funded project will be allocated evenly to low-income housing, tax credit eligible and market rate households. Peter W. Salsich, Jr., The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative: Model Cities by Another Name, or Truly Transformative? 26 Prob. & Prop. 34, 36 (Mar./Apr. 2012).

      [41].  Our Communities, Housing Authority of New Orleans, http://www.hano.org/communities.aspx (last visited May 1, 2013).

      [42].  Id.

      [43].  This figure is a calculation based on the sums of the figures in columns 2 and 3 from Table I, excluding Iberville.  The mere fact that units are rent restricted does not necessarily mean they are deeply affordable units of the kind traditionally offered in public housing projects.

      [44].  Miestchovich, Jr. supra note 28, at 59.

      [45].  See Housing, Housing Authority of New Orleans, http://www.hano.org/housing/hcvp.aspx (last visited May 1, 2013).

      [46].  Finger reports that 30,000 people applied when HANO’s waiting list was opened in 2009. Finger, supra note 13, at 332.

      [47].  Miestchovich, Jr. supra note 28, at 59.  Another encouraging finding is that, while in some cities with tight housing markets voucher holders cannot find landlords willing to accept them, in New Orleans there is an overall usage rate above 90%. Id. at 60.

      [48].  Robert Ellickson, The False Promise of the Mixed-Income Housing Project, 57 UCLA L. Rev. 983 (2010).

      [49].  Id. at 990.

      [50].  Ellickson points to transaction and discounting costs associated with syndication of tax credits, the need to overcome homeowner opposition to siting mixed income developments and costs of rent seeking before state housing finance agencies. Id. at 997-98.

      [51].  Id. at 998-99.

      [52].  Id. at 999-1001.

      [53].  Id. at 1001 (citing Most New Orleans Residents Want to Return, but Not to Public Housing Units, According to HANO Survey, 36 Housing & Dev. Rep. 201 (2008)).

      [54].  Id. at 1004-1008.

      [55].  Id. at 1003-1004.

      [56].  Id. at 1009-1011.  Without pointing to any studies, Ellickson also speculates that the relative “invisibility” of vouchers might reduce subsidy stigmatization and thus enhance the formation of bridging social capital. Id. at 1011.

      [57].  Id. at 1013.  Ellickson recounts two detailed sets of studies here: the HUD-funded “Moving to Opportunity (MTO)” studies, and a set of studies by Robert Putnam. Id. at 1013-14.  Putnam, in particular, concluded that “residents of diverse neighborhoods have less social capital than do residents of more homogeneous neighborhoods.” Id. at 1014 (citing Robert D. Putnam, E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-First Century, 30 Scandinavian Pol. Stud. 137, 149-151, 156 (2007)).

      [58].  Id. at 1015-16.

      [59].  See Jedediah Purdy, The Meaning of Property 4-5 (2010).

      [60].  See, e.g., Seicshnaydre, supra note 17, at 674-75, n. 84 (reporting on a recent audit report indicating that many landlords in New Orleans area (82%) either refuse to accept vouchers outright or raise so many obstacles to voucher use that it becomes practically impossible to use them); see also Finger, supra note 13, at 332-33.

      [61].  Miestchovich, Jr., supra note 28, at 59-60 tbl. 30.  For detailed descriptions of the recent LIHTC and HOME developments in each of these planning districts, see id. at 164-170 (Mid-City), 187-196 (N.O. East), and 205-09 (Algiers).   N.O. East has the fewest LIHTC developments of these three planning districts. Id. at 195-96.

      [62].  I compiled tables using 2010 data supplied by the Louisiana Office of Community Development and neighborhood demographic information published by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Tables available with author.

      [63].  I compiled this table using 2010 data supplied by the Louisiana Office of Community Development and neighborhood demographic information published by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, available at http://www.gnocdc.org/NeighborhoodData/Orleans.html.    The percentages of voucher use in column 1 of the table were calculated using a denominator of 15,339 vouchers as of 12/22/2010.  Louisiana Office of Community Development data available with author.

      [64].  This one anomalous census tract is the site of a former public housing project that was essentially unoccupied at the time of the 2010 census, but is currently undergoing redevelopment.  See Table 1, supra note 44.

      [65].  As Seicshnaydre recounts, relying on a 2003 study, housing voucher users prior to Katrina did tend to cluster disproportionately in areas of concentrated poverty. Seicshnaydre, supra note 17, at 674-75.

      [66].  Allison Plyer, Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, What Census 2010 Reveals about Population and Housing in New Orleans and the Metro Area 2 (Mar. 17, 2011), available at https://gnocdc.s3.amazonaws.com/reports/GNOCDC_Census2010PopulationAndHousing.pdf.  The non-Hispanic white population in New Orleans also fell by 24,000 from 2000 to 2010, resulting in a decline from 33% to 30% of the population.  Meanwhile the Asian population increased slightly from 2% to 3% and the Latino population increased from 3% to 5%. Id.

      [67].  Neighborhood Statistical Data Profiles, Greater New Orleans Community Data Center [hereinafter GNOCDC], available at http://www.gnocdc.org/NeighborhoodData/Orleans.html.

      [68].  See State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau (Mar.14, 2013), available at  http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22000.html.

      [69].  Plyer, supra note 66, at 4.

      [70].  State & County QuickFacts, supra note 68.

      [71].  In Terrytown, non-Hispanic whites make up just 37.3% of the population and, in Kenner, 48.8% of the population.  See State & County QuickFacts, supra note 68.

      [72].  Plyer, supra note 66, at 4.

      [73].  See State & County QuickFacts, supra note68.  In fact, the LIHTC-financed development that St. Bernard Parish tried to block is now complete and fully leased out, and newly elected parish leaders are reportedly embracing the new residents. See Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, St. Bernard Controversy Hasn’t Dampened Interest, Times-Picayune, Feb. 13, 2012, at A-4.

      [74].  Plyer, supra note 66, at 5.

      [75].  Plyer, supra note 66, at 4.

      [76].  State & County QuickFacts, supra note 68.

      [77].  State & County QuickFacts, supra note 68.  Incidentally, the African American population of East Baton Rouge Parish (198,000) is now almost the same size as that of Orleans Parish (205,000). See GNOCDC, supra note 67.

      [78].  Richard Campanella, An Initial Interpretation of 2010 Ethnic and Racial Geographies in Greater New Orleans (Jun. 2011), available at http://www.richcampanella.com/assets/pdf/Study_Campanella_Initial%20Interpretations%20of%202010%20Ethnic%20and%20Racial%20Geography%20of%20New%20Orleans.pdf.

      [79].  Id.  To visualize Campanella’s “teapot,” see Eric Fisher, Race and ethnicity 2010: New Orleans, Flickr (Mar. 25, 2011), http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/5560463750.

      [80].  William H. Frey, The New Metro Minority Map: Regional Shifts in Hispanics, Asians and Blacks from Census, Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings (Aug. 2011), available at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2011/8/31%20census%20race%20frey/0831_census_race_frey.pdf.

      [81].  Edward Glaeser & Jacob Vigdor, The Manhattan Institute, The End of the Segregated Century: Racial Separation in America’s Neighborhoods, 1890-2010 (2012), available at http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/cr_66.pdf.

      [82].  Frey, supra note 80, at 3.

      [83].  Id. at 6-7.

      [84].  Id. at 10.  Frey attributes this to, inter alia, “the economic decline of many industrial areas, high costs of living in non-Southern coastal metro areas, the rise of the ‘New Sun Belt’ growth centers with emerging black professional opportunities and a new generation of middle-class blacks, and the relocation of black retirees.” Id.

      [85].  Id. at 12-14.  According to Frey, the overall decline in neighborhood segregation levels for blacks went from 61 in 1990, to 59 in 2000, to 55 in 2010. Id. at 14.  He also reports that black segregation levels declined in 92 out of the 100 largest metro areas from 2000 to 2010. Id.  Frey uses a standard “dissimilarity” index for this measure. Id. at 3.

      [86].  Id. at 14-15.

      [87].  Id. at 12, 13 map 5.

      [88].  Id. at 14-15 app. E.

      [89].  See Glaeser & Vigdor, supra note 81, at 3-7.

      [90].  Id. at 4.  Glaeser & Vigdor rely on two segregation measures, a dissimilarity index and an isolation index. Id. at 2-3.

      [91].  Id. at 7-8.

      [92].  Id. at 7.

      [93].  Id. at 2, 8-9.

      [94].  See Rolf Pendall, et al., Joint Center for Pol. & Econ. Stud., A Lost Decade: Neighborhood Poverty and the Urban Crisis of the 2000s 21-24 (Sept. 2011), available at http://www.jointcenter.org/sites/default/files/upload/research/files/Lost%20Decade-web.pdf (observing that the historic zones of racially segregated poverty in 79 metro areas lost more than one-third (36%) of their population between 1970 and 2009).

      [95].  Id. at 24.  Pendall, et al. also acknowledge that these zones are less monolithically African American and now comprise substantial numbers of Hispanics. Id. at 23.

      [96].  Id. at 22.

      [97].  Id. at 2, 7-9.

      [98].  Id. at 9-10, 18. As Pendall and his co-authors note, impoverished families are “8.6 times more likely than all non-Hispanic whites to live in extreme poverty tracts.” Id. at 18.

      [99].  William Frey emphasizes this point in another report for Brookings. William H. Frey, Melting Pot Cities and Suburbs: Racial and Ethnic Change in Metro America in the 2000s, Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings (May 2011), available at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2011/5/04%20census%20ethnicity%20frey/0504_census_ethnicity_frey.pdf.