Skip to main content



Photo: Man with Child in flooded watersIn the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast region need to be rebuilt in a sustainable and socially just way. It will cost well over $100 billion in federal funds to rebuild the region. The People who lived in the areas of New Orleans that were still flooded days after Hurricane Katrina struck were more likely to be black, have more children, earn less money, and be less educated than those in the rest of the city. People of color and low income communities disproportionately bear the burdens of the Katrina disaster, and disproportionately stand to loose out on the benefits of recovery and relief.

Normal federal contracting rules have been largely suspended in the push to help people displaced by the storm and reopen New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The administration has already waived the federal law requiring prevailing wages be paid on construction projects underwritten by federal dollars. Hundreds of millions of dollars in no bid contracts have been issued with more to come, and the region will be rebuilt with no guarantee that it will be done so in an environmentally friendly way.

The City Project and Marc Brenman, Executive Director of the Washington State Human Rights Commission, have developed recommendations to help ensure the fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of reconstruction, while promoting democratic values of full information and full and fair public participation in the rebuilding process. The recommendations can be found at Katrina and the Demographics of Destruction and Reconstruction.