NEW ORLEANS -- Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, the faces of neighborhoods all across the city continue to change.
“It was a beautiful neighborhood. It was a more mixed neighborhood than it was,” said Beverly Holden. “Since the storm, all the ones that were renting aren't here anymore.”
The beauty and home ownership pride is finally coming back to Holden's upper 9th Ward neighborhood. She's one of only six original, pre-Katrina homeowners along this stretch of St. Roch Avenue.
“Mostly now it’s about 5 percent black and about 20 or 30 percent white that are moving in, and I'm glad to have 'em,” she said.
Holden said many homes in the area have sat vacant and boarded up since the storm. She and other neighbors, armed with plywood and hammers, regularly battle it out with squatters, so seeing new neighbors is positive in her eyes.
“It’s a good thing to us, because we'd just be a few if it wasn't for them buying up these houses that have been abandoned since Hurricane Katrina,” Holden said.
The faces of neighborhoods across the city continue to change, from the Bywater to the Marigny to Mid-City, and now Central City. Newcomers are moving in and breathing life into what's often neglected and forgotten.
The community data center says entrepreneurship is also up across the New Orleans metro area, with 501 start-ups per 100,000 adults. That’s over a three-year period, and it exceeds the national average by 56 percent.
“Now that we have the levee system, there's going to be more confidence about the real estate inside the levee walls,” said Allyson Plyer of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.
The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center says the city is back at 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population, though Plyer confirms it lost many black homeowners in the process.
Even for homes that didn't flood, Plyers says factors like costs going up, opportunities in new places or schools not re-opening has fueled that exodus.
“In all of those neighborhoods we saw greater decreases of black households than the increases in white households, so you have more empty households in all of those neighborhoods then you did before Katrina.”
It’s a reality clearly visible from this native New Orleanian's front porch.