Amid a pandemic that has deepened economic hardships for thousands of New Orleanians, city leaders have come up short in their goals to build affordable housing, according to a new report from affordable-housing advocates.
Advocacy group HousingNOLA gave the city’s progress toward creating 7,500 affordable housing opportunities in 2020 a failing grade in a report out this week, saying the various agencies working on that problem have so far created only about 1,500 affordable homes.
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It’s the worst grade the group has assigned to public agencies charged with creating affordable housing since it began tracking government progress to relieve housing insecurity in New Orleans five years ago. Last year, the group awarded the agencies a D grade.
“This is not simply a COVID grade,” HousingNOLA Executive Director Andreanecia Morris said. Instead, the COVID-19 crisis and related economic restrictions have exacerbated the housing problems the city has long had, she said.
To improve that outlook, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration should move forward by January with incentive programs that encourage developers to build low-cost housing in high-income neighborhoods, the group said.
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The city should also earmark more funds for vulnerable populations in need of housing, such as essential workers earning minimum wage. And state lawmakers should authorize rental assistance payments for landlords, so tenants continue to be housed even if they have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and cannot afford to pay rent, the group said.
City officials did not respond to a request for comment on the report. But