Census Bureau Releases First Detailed Data on Katrina Damage to New Orleans Area Housing


February 14, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of current homeowners in the New Orleans area say their homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Of these, more than four in 10 reported their homes had suffered major damage and required repairs of $15,000 or more for which most owners received federal flood insurance. 

Data from the 2009 American Housing Survey for the New Orleans Metropolitan Area provide the first comprehensive look at the quality and characteristics of the housing supply in the New Orleans area since 2004 — one year before Hurricane Katrina hit. The information was collected from about 6,000 housing units between July and November of 2009. These unique data include information on people displaced by the disaster, their housing options, the degree of damage to their homes, and repair and renovation information.

“The Katrina situation shows the great value of housing statistics collected by the Census Bureau for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in measuring the progress of recovery after a disaster,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “The American Housing Survey is the nation’s most comprehensive measure of housing stock and its characteristics, and HUD, along with local housing agencies, use it extensively in developing solutions to housing problems.”

The survey conducted in New Orleans included a standard series of questions on housing conditions and housing costs, as well as a series of supplemental questions specifically intended to provide insight into the rebuilding effort following Hurricane Katrina. Today’s release shows the results of these supplemental questions. The New Orleans microdata file is available from the Department of Housing and Urban Development live link to <http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/ahs/ahsdata09_metro.html>. Tables from the standard series of questions were released in 2010 and are available from the Census Bureau live link to <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/metropolitandata.html>.

Survey participants were asked to recount their experiences in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. Based on their responses, about four of every five New Orleans area residents (81 percent) moved away from the area for at least a couple of weeks, relocating about two times after Katrina. Eighty-three percent of all movers reported staying in a house or apartment at least once during their displacement, and 31 percent lived in a hotel, motel or cruise ship at some point. Seven percent or 31,500 of the metro area’s households still do not consider themselves permanently settled.

As of 2009, more than 65,000 housing units were still uninhabitable because of hurricane damage; of those, about two-thirds have been or are scheduled to be leveled, condemned or demolished. About two-thirds (68 percent) of these uninhabitable units were in the city of New Orleans.

Additional highlights on units damaged by Hurricane Katrina or subsequent flooding in the New Orleans metro area include:

  • Among the 214,700 owner-occupied housing units damaged by Hurricane Katrina, 199,000 were repaired.
  • Among the 214,700 owner-occupied units suffering damage, 173,400 reported receiving some type of financial aid, usually homeowner’s insurance (152,100). Additionally, 43,800 received federal flood insurance and 15,900 received federal financial assistance. Some homeowners received multiple types of aid.
  • Families and primary individuals who moved for more than two weeks because of Hurricane Katrina had a median income of $36,000, lower than the $40,030 among those who either did not move or moved for less than two weeks.
  • Only 7 percent of damaged owner-occupied units have already been or will be elevated; of these, 39 percent are required to be elevated.
  • About one-fifth of all owner-occupied units (21 percent) have had 10 or more separate repairs done to them as a result of hurricane damage.
  • Among the owner-occupied units damaged by Katrina, reconstruction work lasted a median of eight months, and repair work a median of four months.
  • There were 16,000 owner-occupied units that needed additions because of Katrina, such as a carport or a bathroom; these additions cost a median of $4,000. About 1.1 million separate alterations, replacements, maintenance or repair jobs were done because of the hurricane; these jobs cost of median of $10,500 each.

In addition to the new data tables related specifically to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, numerous other tables are available that provide extensive data on the quality and characteristics of the housing supply in the New Orleans area. A variety of topics are covered, including the presence of air-conditioning, satisfaction with home and neighborhood, housing costs, presence of various amenities, problems with neighborhood, reasons for choosing home and neighborhood, cost of utilities and size of home. Similar data will soon be released for six other metropolitan areas: New York, Northern New Jersey, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit.

The American Housing Survey (AHS) collects data on the nation’s housing, including apartments, single-family homes, mobile homes and vacant housing units. The AHS is comprised of two household surveys: a national survey and a metropolitan area survey. Since 2007, the national and metropolitan data have been collected in odd numbered years.

The national sample for 2009 includes about 60,000 housing units. The 2009 metropolitan area sample sizes are approximately 2,500 per area, except for New Orleans (where the sample size was approximately 6,000).

Statistics from the AHS surveys are subject to sampling error and nonsampling error. All comparisons have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted.

Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
301-763-3030/763-3762 (fax)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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