Policy Learning and Policy Change: Katrina, Ike and Post-Disaster Housing

March 2011 (VOL. 29, NO. 1)

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Hurricane Katrina has spawned a great deal of research on various issues, including problems and failures in disaster preparation, response and recovery. Less attention has been paid however, to scholarly analyses of policy learning and change with regard to post-disaster housing. The focus of this paper is to fill that gap by analyzing the extent of policy learning and policy changes adopted after Katrina, and by examining the response three years later to Hurricane Ike. We reviewed key legislation and used theoretical insights drawn from the policy literature as a framework for examining post-disaster policy changes and outcomes. We find that as a policy issue, post-disaster housing continues to be a ‘wicked’ and ‘messy’ policy problem, exacerbated by unrealistic expectations of governmental agencies, and characterized by a weak advocacy base. To this end, we offer some policy and planning considerations in our conclusion.