Researchers to Study Rebuilding New Orleans

Researchers at the University of Central Arkansas have been awarded a grant to investigate the effects of non-profit assistance on home rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Jennifer M. Wang, a research associate in the Department of Biology, and Dr. David Mitchell, an assistant professor of economics, are the recipients of a $34,996 grant from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

The goal of their research is to document the spatial patterns of recovery after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and whether non-profit assistance affected those patterns. Their study will compare ways that non-profits can encourage rebuilding in cities after disaster.

The researchers will produce a guidance document for nonprofit, public, and private organizations participating in redevelopment and recovery projects. The study could be helpful in fighting blight in other cities.

“My family is originally from New Orleans. After the storm I was interested in what factors encouraged people to return,” Mitchell said. “Some of the factors were pretty obvious: amount of damage, water level, owner or renter. Some things are less obvious. How important is it that other people in your neighborhood are returning, and do you need a real cluster of other returnees or is one returning neighbor enough?”

It will be helpful to see how clusters of non-profit rebuilt houses encourage Katrina returnees, Mitchell said.

Wang and Mitchell are partnering with the non-profit group, Phoenix of New Orleans,for this project. PNOLA is dedicated to supporting the recovery of the residents of Lower Mid-City New Orleans and its surrounding neighborhoods by rebuilding quality affordable housing and developing the community assets necessary for a vital neighborhood.

For more information, contact David Mitchell at

Lisa Burnett