Rebuilding housing in New Orleans: The Road Home Program after the Hurricane Katrina disaster

Timothy F. Green, Robert B. Olshansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The flooding in New Orleans that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged hundreds of thousands of homes. In response, the State of Louisiana created the Road Home Program using billions of Federal and State dollars. The program provided homeowners with money and the choice to rebuild their home or to sell it. Although it has helped thousands to recover, the program has been criticized for paltry payments, unfair procedures, and program delays. Through analysis of individual applications provided by the Louisiana Recovery Authority, we identify spatial patterns in program implementation and rebuilding option. We then combine those data with others from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Census Bureau. With the resulting data set - including information on damage levels, insurance payouts, award sizes, income, race, and location - we estimate a model of the effect of damage and socioeconomic factors on rebuilding choices. Finally, we examine the differential impacts of the method of calculating awards in the RHP. Our findings confirm those of several reports. The vast majority of residents elected to rebuild their homes, but the method of calculating grants provided insufficient funds to do so, particularly in neighborhoods with lower housing values. We conclude that the RHP was successful in funneling billions of dollars to homeowners for rebuilding and mitigation, but that the unresolved tension between its role as a rebuilding program and a compensation program created significant barriers to recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-99
Number of pages25
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Affordability
  • Construction/building
  • New Orleans
  • Policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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