Mayor Landrieu Unveils 5-Year Strategy To Increase Affordable Housing In New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu unveiled Housing for a Resilient New Orleans – a five-year strategy to increase affordable housing in New Orleans with a goal to build or preserve 7,500 affordable housing units by 2021.

 

         View the Housing for a Resilient New Orleans strategy here.

 

          “Eleven years ago, Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federal levees devastated New Orleans leaving 80 percent of our city underwater,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Since then, the world has witnessed a great comeback story. Billions of dollars have been invested, and now New Orleans is one of the fastest-growing major cities in the nation. Growth at this pace has led to a rise in the cost for housing, so we have an immediate need for and challenge to provide more affordable options. To address this need, we developed Housing for a Resilient New Orleans – a five-year strategy to that uses a holistic approach to meet the housing needs for our growing city. Every resident in this city must be a position to participate in the growth and prosperity we are experiencing, and that includes affordable, quality housing.”

         City reps said Housing for a Resilient New Orleans is guided by three principals: equity, collaboration and openness. The strategy recognizes the important role that affordable housing plays in promoting equity, and the overall importance of helping low- and moderate-income New Orleanians build financial stability and live in thriving communities with linkages to jobs and transportation, they said. It also acknowledges that the City alone cannot meet the growing need for affordable housing and will need support from committed local, state and federal partners.

         City reps said the strategy was produced in collaboration with Enterprise Community Partners, one of the nation’s top housing organizations, through their partnership with the National Resource Network. The Network is a core component of the Obama Administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative and leverages the expertise, partnerships and resources of the public and private sectors to help cities comprehensively tackle their most pressing challenges.

         Simultaneously, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) is taking steps to address rental housing affordability in a new report conducted by the national Center for Community Progress and commissioned by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority that details the conditions of and offers recommendations about the city’s rental housing market. NORA is already working to implement the report’s recommendations, which align with Housing for a Resilient New Orleans.

 

HOUSING FOR A RESILIENT NEW ORLEANS

         City reps said Housing for a Resilient New Orleans builds on the extensive, community-based work already completed through HousingNOLA, a cross-sector initiative that documented the state of housing within the City, noting the challenges that Housing for a Resilient New Orleans systematically addresses.

 

STRATEGY’S GOALS

         Through Housing for a Resilient New Orleans, the City will build or preserve 7,500 affordable housing units by 2021 (4,000 units by 2018 and another 3,500 units by 2021). City reps said the work will be accomplished through four complementary goals: 1) supporting development of new affordable rental and homeownership opportunities 2) preserving affordability and quality of existing rental and homeownership opportunities 3) expanding access to opportunity and promoting mobility by leveraging the AFH process and other fair housing principles and 4) increasing accessibility for vulnerable populations.

 

FUNDING

         Accomplishing this five-year goal will require an annual investment of $17.3 million, which is the amount allocated in 2016, City reps said. With $10 million available in annual recurring funding, New Orleans will need to identify another $7 million each year in resources to offset the reductions in federal funding.

         In addition to its existing resources, Housing for a Resilient New Orleans proposes developing new revenue sources to increase monies for affordable housing development, as well as investments that promote mobility and access to opportunity. These local revenue sources include using proceeds from the sale of public property, value capture, develop­ment fees, and tax increment financing.

         City reps said the City of New Orleans has a successful record of attracting competitive public, private, and philanthropic funding opportunities for past and ongoing work, and the City will continue to pursue this valuable source of funding as new opportunities arise.

 

ROLES OF FEDERAL AND STATE PARTNERS

         In order to accomplish the goal outlined in the Housing for Resilient New Orleans strategy, the City urges the United States Congress to preserve essential federal funding programs and tools by:

• Restoring full funding of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program;

• Expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit;

• Protecting funding of HUD’s Section 4 capacity-building program;

• Expanding funding for project-based rental assistance and Housing Choice Vouchers; and

• Extending, expanding and making permanent the New Market Tax Credit.

 

         To support low- and moderate-income families, City reps are urging the state to establish a dedicated revenue source for Louisiana’s Housing Trust Fund to support construction and preservation of affordable homes, establish a statewide minimum wage above the federal standard, double the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to offset the impact of other tax increases on the working poor and advocate for the Louisiana Housing Corporation to continue practices that allocate resources to support a “fair share” of housing within New Orleans.

 

ROLE OF NON PROFIT PARTNERS

         The City will continue to support neighborhood-based and citywide nonprofit housing corporations who have played a significant role in addressing the unprecedented affordable housing crisis created by Hurricane Katrina, city reps said. Many of these partners used state and local disaster recovery funds to expand and improve the quality of their housing production – through capacity-building efforts. The City will continue to provide Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDO) operating funds to increase the capacity of local affordable housing developers to build or rehabilitate houses, amplify One Table’s coaching to real estate developers and coordinate Section 4-supported capacity-building with Enterprise Community Partners.

 

MEASURING AND REPORTING PROGRESS

         City reps said Housing for a Resilient New Orleans connects its goals to existing performance measures used as part of ResultsNOLA, as well as suggests new performance measures. The Office of Performance and Accountability, which works with other City organizations to develop and track ResultsNOLA performance measures, will explore developing additional performance measures to be integrated into ResultsNOLA to effectively capture results from new or modified initiatives in Housing for a Resilient New Orleans and measure milestones.

 

MILESTONES

         Strategies in Housing for a Resilient New Orleans will be pursued over two timeframes: a two-year milestone with benchmarks by mid-2018 and five-year milestones by 2021. Notable two-year milestones include:

• Adopting an inclusionary housing policy;

• Completing the City’s AFH;

• Adding or preserving 4,000 housing units;

• Completing 100 public housing units for seniors at Faubourg Lafitte;

• Developing a comprehensive asset management strategy for the City, NORA, and HANO;

• Developing and launching the City’s rental registry program;

• Introducing new and clearer regulations for short-term rental properties;

• Reaching “functional zero” in family homelessness;

• Expanding current emergency shelter capacity for families;

• Establishing and operating a best-practice, low-barrier homeless shelter; and

• Creating or expanding several new local sources of revenue to increase funding for affordable housing.

 

         District C Councilmember Nadine M. Ramsey said, “I am happy to work with the administration in implementing sound affordable housing strategies for New Orleans. This is an issue that requires a multilayered approach, ranging from actual housing costs to increased wages. I look forward to the community’s input as we move forward in this process.”

 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING IMPACT STATEMENT STUDY

         At the request of the New Orleans City Council, the City Planning Commission is conducting a study to investigate how affordable housing impact can be assessed as part of land-use and building applications, including but not limited to the use of affordable housing impact statements and to recommend potential changes to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and other applicable codes, if necessary. The City Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on July 12, 2016. 

 

NEW ORLEANS RENTAL HOUSING MARKET REPORT

         NORA has completed the first comprehensive post-Katrina assessment of the city’s rental housing market. The rental housing market report evaluates citywide and neighborhood-level conditions and trends and, based on those findings, makes a series of recommendations to improve the affordability and quality of rental housing.

 

RENTAL HOUSING TRENDS

         In 2013, according to NORA’s rental housing market report, the total inventory of rental housing in New Orleans exceeded the pre-Katrina levels for the first time, totaling 95,015 units compared to 93,173 in the spring of 2005. This revival of rental housing has come largely from rehabilitation of existing properties, as well as a shift in single family properties from owner-occupancy to rental, rather than from new housing construction.

         Renters in New Orleans are disproportionately made up of single persons and non-family households, are much younger than the city’s homeowners, and are disproportionately poor. While the median income of homeowners in New Orleans is $57,000, that of renters is only $24,000, and roughly 30 percent of all of the city’s renters receive some form of rental assistance.

         While the rental vacancy rate fell below 8 percent in 2013 for the first time since Katrina (below the national vacancy rate), rents in New Orleans have increased since 2012 by 20-25 percent. These rent increases have led to the increasing unaffordability of the city’s rental stock. Three out of five renters spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs, and two out of five renters spend more than 50 percent, far more than in the United States as a whole. Nearly four out of five low-income, cost-burdened renters in New Orleans are African American households.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

         NORA’s rental housing market report recommends four possible public interventions to support rental housing availability and quality in light of the above trends and conditions. These include:

• Site acquisition/assembly: Ensuring availability of buildings and sites that can be readily developed.

• Subsidy: Providing capital to reduce the full cost of affordable rental housing development.

• Financing: Increasing access to financing, particularly for small-scale rental housing development and preservation of existing rental stock.

• Regulation: Using existing and new regulatory abilities to create and improve affordable rental housing

These recommendations have been folded into the City’s Housing for a Resilient New Orleans strategy.

 

         City reps said the nonprofit Center for Community Progress, which conducted the rental assessment, is the leading national resource for local, state, and federal policies and best practices that address the full cycle of property revitalization. The organization’s mission is to ensure communities have the vision, knowledge, and systems to transform blighted, vacant, and other problem properties into assets supporting neighborhood vitality.

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