Affordable Housing is Out of Reach in Louisiana for Many Workers

New Orleanians must earn $20.94 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment 

NEW ORLEANS – July 28, 2022–  In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Louisiana, full-time workers need to earn $17.69 per hour. In New Orleans, where 37% of the households are renters, the number is even higher, at $20.94. Those numbers represent what’s called the “Housing Wage,” or the amount someone needs to earn per hour in order to afford a modest rental.  

The data can be found in the new Out of Reach 2022 report released jointly by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for the lowest income people, HousingLOUISIANA, a state-wide network of nine regional housing coalitions, and its local regional partner, HousingNOLA, a 10-year partnership between community leaders and dozens of public, private and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ regional affordable housing crisis. 

This year, we release the Out of Reach report amid record-high inflation and rising rental costs. These rent increases are affecting tenants nationwide, with median rents for two-bedroom apartments increasing nearly 18% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. At the same time, costs for necessities like food and transportation have also skyrocketed, leaving low-income renters with increasingly tighter budgets. With inflation breaking a 40-year record in 2022, many renters have had to make difficult decisions about their budget, sacrificing childcare, medical care, and food to maintain housing. 

“Our failure to put housing first in this state makes all of our other problems even worse,” says Andreanecia Morris, Executive Director of HousingNOLA and President of HousingLOUISIANA. “Housing insecurity is the driver, and these numbers confirm that the consequences of COVID, combined with the failure to act by our leaders, has put us on a course that the state may not recover from. We are urging policy officials to act now, and stop ignoring a crisis that the rest of us don’t have the luxury to ignore. The lack of affordable housing is the number one problem in most Louisiana communities, and the second biggest problem is that our leaders choose not to address it.”  

The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum-wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25 in Louisiana, a wage earner must have 2 full-time jobs or work 81 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment and have 2.4 full-time jobs or work 98 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. This year’s report highlights the 25 highest paid occupations – of which 11 are paid less than the housing wage including administrative assistants, home healthcare and nursing aides, financial clerks, cooks and food service workers among others.  

 “Decades of chronic underfunding for housing assistance have resulted in a housing-lottery system, where only 25 percent of eligible households receive the housing assistance they need,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “With rents rising rapidly, homelessness worsening, and millions of families struggling to stay housed, federal investments in expanding proven solutions – like Housing Choice Vouchers, the national Housing Trust Fund, and public housing – are badly needed and long overdue. As a country, we have the data, partnerships, expertise, solutions, and means to end homelessness and housing poverty – we lack only the political will to fund solutions at the scale necessary.”  

ABOUT HOUSINGNOLA:

HousingNOLA is a 10-year partnership between the community, leaders, and dozens of public, private, and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis by implementing the 10-Year Strategy and Implementation Plan. Rather than just being a written document, HousingNOLA is an ongoing initiative to collectively remind New Orleans and its elected officials of the issues we face and our pledge to maintain a plan of action. Data indicates the need for 33,600 additional affordable units in the city by 2025 and the data clearly shows that wages have not come close to mirroring the dramatic rise in housing costs. It’s our job to hold our leaders accountable to the recommendations we make in HousingNOLA.                    

Learn more at www.HousingNOLA.org 

About HousingLOUISIANA:

HousingLOUISIANA is a statewide network of housing practitioners and advocates whose primary goal is to ensure that all Louisiana’s housing needs are met. Through our statewide network of the nine regional housing alliances in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Houma-Thibodaux, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans, Northshore, and Shreveport, we work to better coordinate efforts and build collaboration across the state on housing issues. 

Learn more at www.HousingLOUISIANA.org

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