As we approach the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, redevelopment in the Gulf Coast mirrors the rebuilding of our national economy. While the people of the Gulf have struggled heroically to come back from disaster, the lack of public investment has slowed the pace of development. It is in our national interest and consistent with our values to invest in all of America’s communities, and therefore, we must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in our economic recovery.

 

This year, working with grassroots coalitions in Mississippi and Louisiana, The Opportunity Agenda conducted communications workshops and media trainings for advocates in the region to help develop their shared narrative of interconnectedness in the face of disaster. The response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster demonstrates that Gulf Coast activists have strengthened their ability to work in coalition and their resistance to any further loss. Organizations have come together to ensure equity in the claims process and accountability by both public and private actors.

Communications Workshop with Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation

Media Workshop with STEPS Coalition and the Equity and Inclusion Campaign

 

Several of our partners are commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as well:

The Fundred Dollar Bill Project — Help make safe the lead-contaminated soil in U.S. cities that put thousands of children at risk for severe learning disabilities and behavioral problems. New Orleans is one of the most lead-contaminated cities in the United States. Draw your Fundred today and be counted.

Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation grantee, the Greater New Orleans Data Center, has produced The New Orleans Index at Five, which provides a comprehensive examination of the region through 20 key indicators, as well as seven topical essays informed by on–the–ground experience and research.

On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a day of hope, commemoration, and resilience, the Equity and Inclusion Campaign honors the lives of those lost, as well as the families and communities across the Gulf Coast that have demonstrated so much strength in the face of adversity.

Steps Coalition Executive Director Roberta Avila assesses the state of recovery for MS Gulf Coast's most vulnerable people, the poor and underserved.

For the second year in a row, the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation has coordinated the Silver Lining Breakfast with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. This event brings together community leaders and the federal officials who direct the resources that affect their recovery and quality of life to shape a conversation that prioritizes community needs.

 

During our recent work in the Gulf Coast, we had a chance to view the continuing devastation in New Orleans.

Photographs of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans

Persistent structural impediments to affordable housing and access to transportation—lifelines to stability and growth—continue to hobble the economy. Developing workable solutions requires a national resolve and the use of tools such as the Opportunity Impact Statement process to ensure civil rights enforcement and basic fairness.