New Orleans receives ‘D’ in effort to provide affordable housing, little hope for change in sight
October 28, 2019
Adinas Perkins describes herself to be a born and bred New Orleanian. She has lived in New Orleans most of her adult life, even returning to the very street she raised her children on in Hollygrove, but she still can’t seem to call it home, due to the rising rent prices in Orleans Parish.
Homes in her Hollygrove neighborhood were once available for rent for under $500 before Hurricane Katrina, now her rent is close to $900.
“I am sad a lot of the time. I am resentful a lot of the time,” said Perkins.
Perkins lives on a $961 social security check and her rent is $850 a month. “I have $150 left, it basically covers the electric, maybe some of the utilities,” said Perkins. Her rent is set to increase another $25 upon the renewal of her lease in March.
Advocacy groups like The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance have taken it upon themselves to be voices for people struggling like Perkins.
Before Katrina hit, 75% of the rental market was renting at below $500, according to The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance.
“After the storm, you saw signs for fast food restaurants paying $10-12 an hour, and while wages increased a little bit so the working poor could come back, they were still not enough to match the dramatic increase in real estate prices,” said executive director of HousingNOLA Andrenecia Morris.
According to Morris, a home is defined as affordable when, “a family is paying less than 30% of their gross income towards housing costs.”
This year, HousingNOLA gave New Orleans a letter ‘D’ for its efforts to provide affordable housing for all.
“Last year we lost more affordable housing. The city and state agencies that create affordable and subsidized housing actually went into the negative,” said Morris.
This left residents like Perkins feeling stuck.
“My children can’t even afford to live here. I waited 50 years to have grandchildren, and they were born in different cities and states,” said Perkins.
The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance encouraged many voters to support New Orleans Affordable Housing Property Tax Exemption Amendment, or Amendment 4. This would allow homeowners to be exempt property tax on properties with no more than 15 residential units from taxes for the purpose of, according to the amendment, promoting and encouraging affordable housing.
However, the amendment was defeated Oct. 12, 2019.
Joe Giarusso, Councilman for District A where Perkins lives, believes the city should focus on revamping transportation in certain areas to aid with the affordable housing crisis.
“We do have a lot of surplus housing in Algiers and in the East but we don’t have a lot of transportation to get there so when people are forced to pick between an hour and a half on the bus and paying more in their rent they are frequently choosing the latter,” he said.
For Perkins, there is hope in sight. Next year, she will have the opportunity to move into a duplex her mother owns and pay a cheaper rent. However, she’s concerned for others in her community who do not have that luxury.
“I have cried and I have mourned a city that I love, but can’t afford to live in,” said Perkins.