Five years after Hurricane Katrina crushed portions of America's Gulf Coast region, the redevelopment efforts are just beginning to revitalize communities. Anyone who has been involved in the long and difficult process is likely familiar with the difficulties and challenges of working through the many federal, state, local, and institutional bureaucracies. A recent white paper could help to iron out many of these inefficiencies and barriers.

Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) recently released a paper examining the spectrum of regulatory, judicial, and legislative barriers that continue to impede post-disaster redevelopment in the Gulf Coast region, prolonging the absence of displaced citizens and thwarting economic improvement. In addition to the many short- and long-term systemic roadblocks, the paper also seeks to identify federal solutions to the underlying problems.

According to the paper, "A Survey of Issues Facing Federal Coordination for the Housing and the Redevelopment of the Gulf Coast, U.S.," layers of confusion for those displaced by disasters result from the many overlapping jurisdictions and opposing priorities of federal and state agencies. The inherent inefficiencies of many of the government agencies that are called on to act in the aftermath of natural disasters are compounded by concerns over environmental liability and risk, lack of interagency communication and cooperation, lack of a single real-time automated system to log and track displaced citizens, inconsistencies in funding and in administrating emergency housing systems, insurance market failures, and the civil court system's handling of insurance claims, among other issues.

The paper was written by Jesse M. Keenan, senior associate attorney with Miami-based international law firm Adorno & Yoss LLP, adjunct professor of Housing Law and Policy at the University of Miami School of Law, and former Visiting Fellow of Housing Studies at JCHS. Before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, Keenan contributed to the development of affordable housing throughout the region.

In the paper, Keenan calls for strong federal legislation that will allow for uniform systems of regulatory compliance and claims adjudication, political leadership, and ongoing development of strategies to address short-, mid-, and long-term post-disaster housing needs.

For more details, download the complete paper here.