Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Day A The Snail Race

The housing boom that most people are waiting for is off to a slow start. Some are supprised but they shouldn't.

The new home construction plans announced so far target wealthy buyers, even out-of-towners who might want a "weekend place" in downtown New Orleans. They're being built in the "high and dry" land near the unflooded French Quarter or in a suburb miles away.

When built, they'd replace a fraction of the nearly 250,000 homes in the metro area that were damaged when Hurricane Katrina ripped through in late August and the levees failed, flooding some areas of town with 14 feet of water.

People need to understand that rebuilding over 200,000 homes is like starting a locomitive from a dead stop. It takes a while to get moving.

The holdup for New Orleans is that for that much construction to take place, the contractors need a place to stay nearby. The problem is that there are few places for them to stay. The work being done now is mostly by local contractors and out-of-towners who have found a place to stay for a few weeks. But as more housing units become available, more contractors will be available for hire.

I noticed that in New Orleans East, major work is being done on a large apartment complex near the interstate. Once completed it will be home for construction workers and locals who lost their homes or apartments. Many will be low-income workers that are in high demand in the area.

But we're finally starting to see the wheels turning even if it is at a snails pace.

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