As the world witnessed during Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, disasters have a way of revealing underlying social inequalities. That lesson is now being repeated in the wake of last month's disaster along the Gulf Coast.
When it tore through Houston, Hurricane Ike severely damaged more than half of the city's apartment complexes, which are home to more than 93,000 renters, according to a Houston Chronicle investigation. Furthermore, the units that were damaged were not distributed equally throughout the city:
Most of those apartments were located among the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods, where blight already had driven many buildings into disrepair even before the storm, according to the data.
In response to another Chronicle investigation published earlier this year documenting substandard housing conditions in Houston, Mayor Bill White ordered increased oversight of multifamily housing and promised to spend $1 million a year on new staff for the effort. Unfortunately, the increased scrutiny came too late for Houstonians of modest means who found themselves in Ike's path.