Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Social Welfare

First Advisor

Roberta R. Iversen


Hurricane Katrina, the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, hit the New Orleans metropolitan area in 2005. Many studies have examined differences in both damage and recovery with respect to more socially vulnerable groups, and have identified lack of access to financial assistance as a key explanatory factor. But studies to date have focused only on differences at the community level and have concentrated exclusively on Orleans Parish. This dissertation investigates recovery prevalence and speed at the individual homeowner level and to broadens to the New Orleans metropolitan area.

I focus on three research questions. First, among socially vulnerable demographic groups identified in the literature (including Black, Hispanic, female heads of household, people ≥ age 65), which were most likely to suffer housing damage at the homeowner level? Second, among those suffering the most housing damage, how did their access to financial assistance differ from other homeowners? Finally, what role did these differences play in relative prevalence and speed of recovery for those suffering the most housing damage?

Data from the 2004 and 2009 American Housing Surveys in the New Orleans Metropolitan Statistical Area are used to model home damage by a series of nested logistic regressions, and to model home recovery by both logistic and Cox regressions. Analyses suggest the following. First, among the socially vulnerable groups, Black homeowners were most vulnerable to housing damage. Vulnerability was partially due to their older homes, which was strongly associated with damage from Katrina. Second, Black homeowners were less likely than others to receive private financial assistance and more likely to receive public financial assistance. They were also more likely to perceive financial gaps impeding their recovery process. Third, private financial assistance positively contributed to prevalence and speed of recovery whereas reliance on public financial assistance slowed speed of recovery. While prevalence of home recovery was similar between Black and non-Blacks, Black homeowners took much longer to start and complete recovery than non-Black homeowners. Delays were partially due to Blacks’ relative lower incomes, higher number of replacements/additions, lack of private financial assistance, and financial gaps they perceived after the disaster.


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