$37 Billion needed to end New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis

NEW ORLEANS – February 21, 2022 – HousingNOLA and its partners unveil Housing for All, a finance plan for a more equitable New Orleans, which provides a financial roadmap to end our city’s affordable housing crisis. This plan is an update to the HousingNOLA 10-Year Strategy and Implementation Plan, which was released in 2015. This latest research shows $37 billion is needed to ensure equitable development that will help our city grow its population and economy and recover more quickly from disasters. Reaching this number is eminently possible over time with the help of public and private partners. HousingNOLA has already secured investments and identified pending opportunities.  

“Despite HousingNOLA having provided a comprehensive strategy that would end the city’s housing crisis back in 2015, leaders have ignored the needs of citizens and focused on investment strategies that prize development for the sake of development,” says Andreanecia Morris, Executive Director of HousingNOLA.  “Despite the connection to New Orleans’ culture, Vodoo Economics simply doesn’t work. We must intentionally address the long-standing biases around the concept of affordable housing to break this cycle. Affordable housing evokes thoughts of programs like Section 8, tax credits and permanent supportive housing, but that’s not the only kind of affordable housing we need to create. We need policies that lower utility bills, increase wages and ensure equitable transportation.” 

The Housing for All Plan focuses on how to invest community capital in the most beneficial way to increase affordable housing. New Orleans has experienced deep economic struggle in the wake of multiple disasters over the past 20 years. After Hurricane Katrina, the city lost nearly 100,000 African American families and households who have not been able to return to New Orleans; much of this population decrease can be attributed to systemic underinvestment in new affordable homes, a lack of living-wage jobs, and an ongoing series of disasters that have challenged our city’s ability to recover. Most recently, COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida have both tested the resilience of our city systems and exposed ongoing challenges to our housing stock, our economy, and our infrastructure. 

Per HousingNOLA’s Housing for All Plan, four overlapping priorities define the need for investment in equitable community development in New Orleans:  

  • Eliminate Cost Burden by Decreasing the Housing Affordability Gap – The 2021 demand model reveals that there is enough housing stock to adequately house all households living in New Orleans today, if it were offered at appropriate prices. 
  • Close the Racial Wealth Gap- For both renters and homeowners, the cost burden that results from the mismatch in housing supply and demand disproportionately impacts households of color.   
  • Ensure a More Resilient Housing Stock and System – The resilience of New Orleans’ housing stock and systems that support resilient housing (e.g., reliable infrastructure) are of critical importance to New Orleans’ future, as we face an increasing variety of disasters.
  • Combat Displacement – Commuters who live outside of New Orleans but work within Orleans Parish are assumed to be indicative of households who would live in the city if the right housing opportunity was present.   

Ending housing insecurity will require an approach that is innovative, comprehensive, and sustainable.  No one community can do this alone.  We need to harness the efforts of the private sector, government, and philanthropy to create robust and sustainable investment and development strategies that produce significant community impact. HousingNOLA is working with financial institutions, real estate experts, government agencies, developers, and advocates to help secure the financial investments necessary to address the affordability crisis.  

A portion of the funding already secured will support Own the Crescent, a HousingNOLA program that helps landlords fix up and rent their properties and helps first-time homebuyers find housing. The program is supported by the Roy & Patricia Disney Foundation, Hancock Whitney, and JP Morgan Chase. First-time homebuyers are given hands-on help including homebuyer training, credit counseling and special financing options. Landlords and developers are given the financial means to renovate their properties through special loan options and financial planning. 

Over the past 16 years, billions have been invested to rebuild New Orleans’ housing market.  This investment was catalyzed initially by philanthropy and volunteer labor but is anchored by billions in insurance proceeds, private financing and federal grants.  Using today’s construction costs that investment totals approximately $50 billion. The Housing for All Action Plan builds on the revolutionary work HousingNOLA has done for the past seven years and seeks to lay claim to the historic investment opportunities.  This must be combined with an accountability and citizen engagement strategy that these funds do not follow previous patterns and don’t bring stability to the people of New Orleans.  The Housing for All Action Plan strives to guarantee housing and ensure that every neighborhood achieves Golden Pearl status—creating an equitable, affordable, and strong city.    

“While the Housing for All Action Plan demonstrates a heightened need, we must go back to our roots and honor the original commitments that drove HousingNOLA,” says Morris. “In that vein, the first resources secured will be used to create the 7,500 housing units that New Orleans should have seen in the first five years of the HousingNOLA plan. From there, want to make sure that the new financial resources that come to our community #PutHousingFirst, or we will find out selves facing an even more bleak set of outcomes than our community is dealing with today.”  

Read the Housing for All Action Plan here

The analysis for the Housing for All Action Plan was provided by Asakura Robinon and Urban Focus and supported by the Kresge Foundation.  HousingNOLA worked with an Ad Hoc Advisory Group to provide additional market context and analysis.  

You can view this morning’s press conference here

Press Conference Speakers: 

  • Logan Burke, Executive Director Alliance for Affordable Energy 
  • Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, Chief Equity Officer, Efforts of Grace / Ashé Cultural Arts Center 
  • Chuck Morse, Executive Director, Thrive New Orleans
  • Andreanecia M. Morris, Executive Director, HousingNOLA 

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