New Orleans has always had its issues. Like many major American cities, there is a spike in crime, and housing is becoming unaffordable. There is even a recall effort against our mayor, Latoya Cantrell. New Orleanians are fed up and starting to voice their disapproval of how everything is going down in this city. We asked some questions about what keeps people in New Orleans, their largest concerns, and what would force them out. Also, we asked what would make you stay. Take a look at the answers we got in return!
#1: What are the top three issues facing New Orleans right now?
The overwhelming response to this question was crime. I think you would be hard-pressed to find any citizen not concerned about that at this moment.
After crime, these were the TOP THREE responses: infrastructure and the lack thereof, housing affordability, and corrupt politicians.
Here are the other responses from our poll:
- Effects of climate change
- Unsustainable insurance rates
- Lack of economic development beyond tourism
- Stormwater management
- Social services & lack of public services
- Sewage and Water Board
- Road repairs
- Unliveable wages
- Tourist focused solutions
#2: What are the top three reasons you continue living in New Orleans?
While the answers to this question varied, the number one response was family and friends/sense of community. Followed closely by the culture of New Orleans and that there is always something to do!
Here are some other answers we received:
- There is nowhere like New Orleans
- The creative energy of the city
- Bikable city
- The art
- Bar and restaurant scene
- The music
- General attitude towards life in the city
#3: What would make you move out of the city?
Going back to our original question of the issues facing the city – most of the answers involve people would leave the city because of crime. The second most popular answer: Another major hurricane. This is a real fear we live with day in and day out with climate change.
Other replies to this question:
- Figuring out how to live abroad
- If my family moved
- No Mardi Gras
- Rising insurance costs
- Better opportunities
- Loss of civil rights (state level)
- Income can’t support basic living situation
One of our respondents is a former resident who commented this: I have left. Although it was due to the severe condition of the city at the start of the pandemic, I was already getting very sick and tired of things not working, constant power outages, and deplorable infrastructure conditions, in addition to the inability to make a living wage and lack of well-paying job opportunities for my skill set.
#4: If you have left the city or parish, what made you move?
For the non-natives, the most popular answer was to be closer to family. We also had the failure of local government to be thrown in a few times, as well as the state being backward as a whole. Here are some quotes, though:
“Living elsewhere for the past few years has also opened my eyes to how bad it is in New Orleans on all fronts. Life is easier when you make a living wage, have stable infrastructure, experience well-run services like the DMV, and have ample opportunities for professional and personal development based on your merit and not personal connections. Being compensated for what your worth in your profession is a huge one for me, and I didn’t fully realize just how far behind NOLA is from the rest of the nation until I moved. Seeing my tax dollars at work too is huge – well-maintained roads, no trash on the street, and extensive public services are proof that although taxes suck, they fund projects that benefit everyone! At least where I live now, they do.”
“Louisiana’s general hostility toward anyone who is not a straight white catholic male. The power structure of the state is engineered to profit a select few old families that still believe owning others should be the law of the land.”
“I have left for family reasons (I’m not a native), and thinking I would change my lifestyle if I moved to a city that seemed “cleaner” in lifestyle (read as “less bar culture”). What I found was that our neighborhood bars are like rec rooms and that people do the same elsewhere, just in smaller groups and in their garages.”
#5: Do you plan to leave the city? If so, how long of a timeframe?
Man, New Orleanians are some hard-headed people. 90% of responses were they were not leaving. Even with all the problems, they will not go. Many stated that their life here was impossible to recreate elsewhere.
For the ones who did say they were planning to leave, most said in less than ten years.
#6: If you never plan on leaving New Orleans, what keeps you coming back for more?
We are just going to provide some amazing testimonials and quotes because these words all speak for themselves:
“There’s nowhere like it culturally & part of me really wants our daughter to grow up here in the unique, creative, open & loving energy of the city. It’s where both of our families live & in my 15 years living here I have built up a really beautiful friend community that I am reluctant to leave. As an avid costumer, I love that I have consistent opportunities to dress up & that I am surrounded by creative people who inspire me. As a lover of music, I adore that I can see the best music in the world any day of the week & go to festivals often right down the road. As a foodie, I am continually impressed by our restaurants & would stack them up against anywhere I’ve been in my travels. There’s also an energy I can’t quite put my finger on that’s so welcoming, so encouraging, so weird & wonderful.”
“New Orleans is my home. I’m tired of visiting friends on the Northshore, across the state line in MS, in Slidell – and seeing homes and businesses filled with NOLA love. You know what I mean. Greyscale photos of a rainy FQ afternoon. Sketches of streetcars. Mardi Gras krewe stuff. Fleur de Lis everything. Dogs named Tchoupitoulas. Oh, they love New Orleans. Most of them grew up here. They have great memories of high school, snoballs, parades, and family gatherings. But they all moved away citing crime, bad streets, poverty, taxes, poor schools – everything everyone complained about in 1980 when I moved here as a kid. No, I can’t fix it all. Certainly not by myself. But I’m also not going to walk away, point fingers, and complain from somewhere else. New Orleans is my home, and I’m going to make it better wherever I can.”
“Easily finding joy daily, and exchanging it with others! Embracing building relationships with neighbors & community members. Riding the extreme highs and lows, banding together with others to accomplish big things. Finding common ground so we can celebrate each other’s uniqueness. Living life outdoors in spite of any cold or rain or heat, hearing live music every day, making death a true celebration of love and life, and … celebrating life with the living everyday, while elsewhere people just wait quietly until after people die to truly express their love.”
“It’s that indescribable feeling of being home the moment I hit those surface streets. It’s the incredible food. It’s the parades and bands and gatherings of people that jack up traffic and make you reorganize your day. It’s the people and how much we care about each other but at the same time don’t give a damn what you’re doing as long as you’re not hurting anyone. It’s the beating heart you hear in your soul when you can just exist here for a moment.”
“I’ve never been loved like the people of NOLA love me.”
“I’ve never met better people than the people I know here. We barely have our shit together on a daily basis, but when someone needs help, or a place needs help, or the whole damn city needs help, we can rally and take care of each other better than anyone anywhere else.”
While this city can feel like an abusive relationship sometimes, there are so many of us that would never leave it behind. We are here till the bitter end.
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