HousingNOLA Releases Affordable Housing ‘Report Card’
NEW ORLEANS – From HousingNOLA:
For the third year in a row, New Orleans earned an “F” letter grade on the HousingNOLA 2022 Annual Report Card on the state of affordable housing. HousingNOLA is a 10-year partnership between community leaders and dozens of public, private and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis. The annual report card grades the progress of HousingNOLA’s 10-Year Plan, including whether elected officials, lenders, policy makers, developers and city and state housing agencies have delivered on their commitments to provide affordable housing.
The HousingNOLA 10 Strategy & Implementation Year Plan, developed in 2015, showed that we needed 33,600 housing units built to house our population and bring home those displaced from Hurricane Katrina. In February of 2022, the Housing For All Plan showed that rising prices had further limited the availability of affordable homes in New Orleans. Our goal therefore increased to creating 47,000 affordable housing units through new development, preservation, and subsidies. City leaders simply are not building enough affordable housing units year after year. At this point in the plan, New Orleans should have seen approximately 7,500 new housing opportunities from the various agencies responsible for creating and subsidizing housing. Sadly, eight years into the 10-year plan, that number is only 2,452. Simply put, city leaders are not building enough affordable housing units year after year.
“Housing is at the root of a myriad of problems our city is currently facing,” says Andreanecia Morris, executive director of HousingNOLA. “Crime, the sluggish response to covid, the economic crisis, climate change – pick your poison, all of these issues are rooted in the failure to guarantee housing. Slowly but surely, the affordable housing crisis is strangling our city. We must address housing in an equitable and straightforward manner. It’s time we talk about the elephant in the room. We can no longer allow our leaders to be distracted. We need to hold them accountable. We know that ignoring housing is a guarantee for failure. In fact, the previous failing grades were indicative of trouble to come when dealing with crime, climate change and our recovery from COVID-19. We cannot turn away from this. We cannot be anything but resolute. We must #PutHousingFirst.”
Despite the grim reality of a failing grade, there were some bright spots that will allow us to build and hopefully achieve much more success next year. The Healthy Homes Ordinance was introduced at the end of September and could finally become a reality—this was after New Orleans added Right to Counsel to its annual budget. The Louisiana legislature made evicting renters after a hurricane illegal and launched a pilot program that could, if properly designed and implemented, result in lower wind and hail insurance premiums. We also saw significant progress in resetting our building standards so homes could be safer and more resilient.
Key Findings from the 2022 HousingNOLA Annual Report Card:
- The median rent has risen to $1,082 and the median income in the city has decreased by almost $4,000 since 2019.
- City and state agencies are still not producing as much affordable housing opportunities as our people need to be stabilized.
- Sixty-three percent of renters and 30% of homeowners are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income toward their housing.
- Low-to-moderate income households are struggling to navigate the Housing Choice Voucher Program and even with a voucher, renters are still struggling to find housing.
Once again, HousingNOLA and its partners are calling on our Mayor and City Council to make the following #PutHousingFirst policies a priority:
- Continue to implement the Smart Housing Mix by creating incentives for projects with 10 units or less and remove all zoning barriers to sustainable and equitable neighborhoods
- End source of income discrimination and support HANO in finding landlords for its voucher holders
- Enact the Healthy Homes Ordinance aka Rental Registry
- Revise production goals and report on progress
- Identify funding to support vulnerable populations that cannon be aided by COVID-19 funding (essential workers making minimum wage, households on fixed incomes, homeless and the formerly incarcerated)