Katrina’s Window

Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America

By The Brookings Institution

October 30, 2005

Summary

Hurricane Katrina’s assault on New Orleans’ most vulnerable residents and neighborhoods reinvigorated a dialogue on race and class in America. This paper argues that the conversation should focus special attention on alleviating concentrated urban poverty—the segregation of poor families into extremely distressed neighborhoods—and cultivate policies that create neighborhoods of choice and connection.  

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Key Takeaway

Location matters when trying to climb out of poverty

News coverage of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in New Orleans showed that individuals and families left behind were overwhelmingly poverty-stricken blacks in poor health. Residents in this isolated neighborhood had no friends or relatives to turn to for shelter or financial assistance. Katrina showed how poverty can isolate any urban neighborhood socially as well as geographically.

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