Natural disasters can conceivably have significant impacts on the “neighborhood sorting” of different racial or economic groups across intrametropolitan space. Using Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data we examine mortgage-financed homebuying activity within the New Orleans MSA before and after Hurricane Katrina. We find that, while the total amount of homebuying in the 7-parish New Orleans MSA was relatively unchanged between 2004 and 2006, homebuying in the city declined significantly, and declined most in places experiencing severe storm damage. We also find that after Hurricane Katrina, the proportion of homebuyers in the region and the city who were African-American or low-income declined. Finally, we find that segregation levels of African-American and lower-income homebuyers declined in the year following Katrina. However, some of this effect is likely due to smaller overall numbers of lower-income and African-American buyers in the region.

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date


Discussion Paper Number

DP 2008-05