My wife and I have been living in Mid-City for over two years now and have enjoyed every minute of it. This is truly a fascinating time to live in this part of the city as it has become a center of change, growth and culture.
We live in what could be deemed Mid-City, New Orleans. Mid-City or City Planning district 4, as the larger neighborhood classification (as comparable to Uptown, Gentilly, etc.), encompases other neighborhoods such as Gert Town, Treme, Fairgrounds, Bayou St. John, the 7th Ward, and Mid-City. If we look back into the history of New Orleans, we see that the French Quarter was settled first and spread out from their into the Marigny and Uptown. Mid-City was settled later as it was originally composed of mosquito-ridden swamp lands. With the invention of the screw pump in 1913 and the expansion of the city, Mid-City was born. Mid-City has traditionally been a center of middle-class working families. After the Katrina rebuild, Mid-City experienced a slower rebuild and is in the middle of a slower gentrification period (See Pastor Matt Brichetto’s post on gentrification here) than say the Bywater or Freret-Mylan neighborhoods. This has made the process more intentional and has generally resulted in less displacement and marginalization of the poor and minority populations.
Today, Mid-City is home to over 14,000 people. The majority of them work in food service, retail, and the health care industry. It is also home to numerous bike paths, streetcar lines, and local restaurants (by the way: Biscuit and Buns on Banks + Parkway Po-Boys + Katie’s + Angelo Brocato’s = best day ever). Mid-City is one of the most diverse neighborhoods, comprised mostly of black, white, and hispanic populations. In fact, the hispanic population is three times the average for the Orleans Parish.
Mid-City also comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, over 40% of Mid-City residents live below the poverty line. Only 22% of children live with married parents. 50%, as in half, of all kids in Mid-City, live with only a female parent. That is higher than the Orleans Parish average and more than double the U.S. average.
So, how do we respond to Mid-City?
Mid-City offers the city a great perspective on what it means to progress and to grow without ousting the poor and minorities. We should study Mid-City to better learn how to help our city as a whole. Mid-City is rich in knowledge. On my block alone, one neighbor has lived in the same house for almost thirty years and on the other side of me are a group of UNO film students who are taking part in the New Orleans film boost. I learn so much just by sitting on my porch.
Poverty is real in Mid-City. Many families are struggling to get by and the church has been called and commissioned to help them as we would Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46). Seek out new ways to serve the poor in this community.
Families are broken in Mid-City. The kids of Mid-City need a lot of love. Find ways to partner with schools and families to show kids in Mid-City that they are loved by you and by a God that is so much bigger than their circumstances.