What Happens Next?
Now that much (though not all) of the immediate life and death crisis with Katrina has passed, what happens next? What can the estimated 200,000 evacuees living in Texas and the thousands scattered elsewhere expect? I still haven't seen any realistic estimates of the time needed to rebuild/repair/replace housing in New Orleans...probably because it's still too early to know. But I'm certain that it's going to be much longer than the people living in shelters want to wait.
Today, Daniel Drezner posted a proposal from Ed Olsen of the University of Virginia to use existing vacant apartment spaces. Frankly the number of available apartments was staggering. From Olsen's piece: "The largest metropolitan areas in the south central region have some of the highest vacancy rates – 15.6 percent in Houston, 14.4 percent in San Antonio, 12.8 percent in Dallas, 12.2 percent in Memphis, 13.1 percent in Birmingham and 18.5 percent in Atlanta. Vacancy rates for smaller metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas are also at historically high levels." This is undoubtedly the consequence of the low interest rates and the rise in homeownership. But it certainly presents a short-term solution better than anything else I've seen so far.
One final note. Some of the left-wing nutcases have suggested this is an intentional relocation by the Bush administration to obtain political advantage. "Move them to red states" they claim as the secret motive they have discovered. Ummm...have people forgotten that Bush won Louisiana by 15 per cent in 2004? Not much motivation there to move voters out that I can see!