Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk

Stacy Seicshnaydre (Tulane Law School) Robert A. Collins (Dillard University) Cashauna Hill (Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center) Maxwell Ciardullo (Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center)

Published: Apr 05, 2018

New Orleans history and culture is rooted in a unique sense of place. Yet, beneath a shared sense of tradition and culture lies another reality marked by separation, privilege, and disadvantage. The historical and contemporary dividing lines in New Orleans, like in most American cities, fall along categories of black and white, race and ethnicity. Gaining an understanding of the history of neighborhood segregation in New Orleans is essential to appreciating contemporary racial disparities in wealth, access to opportunity, and vulnerability to disaster risk.


Residential racial segregation is not a neutral phenomenon for blacks. Research demonstrates that “blacks on average remain more physically isolated from jobs than members of any other racial group.”1 Housing segregation contributes to unequal exposure to crime and violence, environmental health hazards, and threats to physical and mental health.2 For children, the concentrated neighborhood poverty associated with segregation can be catastrophic, as “child poverty can lead to chronic, toxic stress that disrupts the architec­ture of the developing brain…”3 Segregation also results in a peculiar dynamic where, regardless of income, blacks are more likely to live in a high poverty neighborhood than whites.4

This paper will examine an array of government policies and practices, reinforced by the private sector, which created artificial racial segregation in New Orleans and across the U.S. and helped lock in disadvantage for black New Orleanians.

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Citations and sources can be found in the PDF copy of the report.