When asked what form of housing they prefer, only 20.3 percent of respondents wanted to return to their former public housing units. A closer examination of families who resided in the C.J. Peete, B.W. Cooper, St. Bernard, and Lafitte developments ("the Big 4") found that even fewer (13.7 percent) preferred to return to their former units.
"This survey illustrates what HANO and HUD have been saying for the past two years," said C. Donald Babers, the HUD-appointed HANO board chairman. "The vast majority of HANO's families want better housing in safer communities. We are creating a vibrant, safe environment where children and families can thrive. These residents deserve something better than what they had and our plan give it to them."
The findings of the UTA resident survey include:
- 35 percent of households want to return to their former units or other available public housing units in the City of New Orleans;
- Only 20.3 percent of all respondents want to return to the public housing unit they occupied prior to Hurricane Katrina;
- 36.6 percent of public housing households want to return to New Orleans, but want a Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) to rent a home rather than live in public housing;
- 21.4 percent prefer to remain in the community where they relocated, continuing to live in public housing or private rental housing supported by a Housing Choice Voucher; and
- 6.9 percent did not express a preference.
Last July, HANO contracted with the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) to conduct a survey of the approximately 5,100 families who resided in New Orleans public housing prior to Hurricane Katrina. In close consultation with public housing advocates, residents, representatives of Rep. Maxine Waters' staff, and others, UTA developed an extensive survey designed to gauge the preferences of families who were displaced from their homes.
UTA hired Survey Communications, Inc. (S.C.I. Research) of Baton Rouge, a full-service, national marketing research firm, to conduct the telephone survey of all the families. After numerous attempts to contact former residents, S.C.I. Research was able to contact 2,553 former residents. Ultimately, 41 percent of HANO residents (2,109) agreed to participate in the survey. When comparing of characteristics of those surveyed with all 5,100 displaced public housing families, the sample is found to be highly representative.