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New Orleans gets $28 million to build affordable housing

New housing units will address what the mayor calls an “existential crisis”

Reflective windows bounce sunlight off New Orleans City Hall behind a park lined with lampposts on a brick pathway Photo by Vegasjo/Wikimedia Commons

New Orleans will fund the construction of 642 affordable housing units with a package of tax credits and block grants secured in partnership with the Louisiana Housing Corporation.

On July 24, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced $3.8 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and $25.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funding that the city had received through the state’s Louisiana Housing Corporation’s Piggyback program. That program supports new construction and renovation of affordable multifamily housing. In a statement, Cantrell said the funds will “increase the supply of new homes, preserve affordability, and safeguard the quality and accessibility of our housing.”

“We are committed to leveraging the resources of all available partners to address our city’s affordable housing crisis by giving both our developers and residents the opportunities they need to build and find a home,” Cantrell said.

In March, the New Orleans City Council approved a suite of inclusionary zoning changes aimed at increasing the number of affordable units in a housing market that has outpaced incomes for lower-income residents. The new rules require new multifamily developments in in-demand areas to also include lower-cost units alongside market-rate apartments.

Last year, Gov. John Bel Edwards threatened to sign legislation that preempts New Orleans’ ability to require so-called smart housing mix policies if officials didn’t move to put those policies in place.

Cantrell said the city’s inability to sustain affordable housing “is an existential crisis.”

According to the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, the city needs 33,593 affordable housing opportunities to address its affordability crisis. The Alliance’s 10-year plan called for the creation of 1,500 affordable units a year between 2016 and 2020, ultimately reaching 7,500 units within the plan’s first five years. As of April 2019, the city and state agencies responsible for meeting that goal have produced only 2,212.