Researchers at the University of Central Arkansas have been awarded a grant to investigate the effects of non-profit assistance on home rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. 

Dr. Jennifer M. Wang, a research associate in the department of biology, and Dr. David Mitchell, an assistant professor of economics, are the recipients of a $34,996 grant from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.  

The goal of their research is to understand the spatial patterns that are important for rebuilding cities and whether the cities need rebuilding because of disaster or blight.

Their study will look at ways in which non-profits can encourage rebuilding homes in Mid-City New Orleans. The researchers will produce a guidance document for nonprofit, public, and private organizations participating in redevelopment and recovery projects.

"My family is originally from New Orleans. After the storm, I was interested in what factors encouraged people to return," Mitchell said. "Some of the factors were pretty obvious — amount of damage, water level, owner or renter. Some things are less obvious. How important is it that other people in your neighborhood are returning, and do you need a real cluster of other returnees or is one nearby neighbor enough?" 

It will be helpful to see how clusters of non-profit rebuilt houses encourage Katrina returnees, Mitchell added.

Wang and Mitchell are partnering with the non-profit group, Phoenix of New Orleans, for this project. The organization is dedicated to supporting the recovery of the residents of Lower Mid-City New Orleans and its surrounding neighborhoods by rebuilding quality affordable housing and developing the community assets necessary for a vital neighborhood.