A Rental Named Desire

When the levees broke, the floodwaters stripped away much of New Orleans' most affordable rental housing. A decade later, people like Desi Grimes are still struggling to find a home.
Feature (Louisiana)

Catherine Dunn
International Business Times (IB Times)
August 27, 2015

Tags: Disaster Recovery, Housing: Landlord-Tenant

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) (DC), Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS)


New Orleans is reflective of the growing fragility of low-income renters in the U.S. When the levees broke and floodwaters engulfed 80 percent of the city 10 years ago, the flooding stripped away many of the houses that people once rented at affordable prices, in an economy that runs largely on tourism and low-wage service-sector jobs.

In the rebuilding effort, officials dedicated the vast majority of $11.5 billion in federal funds to restoring homeowners’ properties and only about 13 percent to tending rental stock. The city’s decade-long comeback has brought with it the imports and engines of gentrification that drive rents up: an aura of Hollywood cool, hipster artfulness, Airbnb popularity, and investment capital flowing into luxury developments.