Researchers Issue Post-Hurricane Recovery Analysis
Ten years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, Louisiana State University researchers have analyzed and documented the recovery effort for the state. Initial reports were recently released. Due to the unprecedented destruction of the 2005 storm season, recovery efforts traditionally supported by insurance and FEMA were supplemented by a unique set of programs funded through $13.4 billion of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds.
In addition, four months after the disaster, President Bush signed H.R. 4440, the Gulf Opportunities Zone Act of 2005 (GO Zone). This legislation increased LIHTCs to an amount equal to $18 per capita (based on pre-disaster census data) for the presidentially declared disaster areas for each year from 2006 to 2008, granting Louisiana an extra $1.7 billion, Mississippi an extra $1.06 billion, and Alabama an extra $470 million in LIHTCs. Texas and Florida also received an additional $35 million in total tax credits. The GO Zone areas were designated as difficult to develop areas (DDAs), which meant they received a 130 percent eligible basis boost, but were not included in the 20 percent cap on designated DDAs nationwide. The key findings from the report relating to housing are as follows:
- About 515,000 housing units in Louisiana were damaged and more than 200,000 units were destroyed;
- Assistance from three programs—the Homeowner Assistance Program, the Small Rental Property Program, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Piggyback Program—appears to have been more concentrated in places facing the greatest recovery challenges;
- Areas that received more disbursements seemed to experience accelerated recovery statewide and by planning district in New Orleans; and
- There were also positive correlations between disbursements to owners and population growth from one to three years after the hurricanes. Populations appear to have returned and stayed in the affected areas.