The City Council recently voted in favor of creating affordable homeownership standards for New Orleans, adding to the suite of regulations already devoted to creating affordable rental units. New Orleans has implemented mandatory inclusionary zoning for rentals in parts of the city (also known as the “smart housing mix”), where developers must set aside 10% of units for below-market rental to tenants who meet income requirements, or pay an “in-lieu fee” which contributes to the City’s affordable housing fund. Under the ordinance passed by the City Council in June, developers will be able to build at higher density rates and with less stringent parking requirements if they set aside a percentage of for-sale housing units as affordable for people making below certain income requirements. The units must be marketed to be sold at below market rate for a period of five years. Also considered in the motion was the potential to expand community land trusts (CLTs) in New Orleans using the in-lieu fees. CLTs use a shared ownership model to allow people a way to buy a home and build equity, while keeping the property permanently affordable. The following are in-person and online comments from the City Council meeting on June 8.
Housing Alliance and Housing NOLA support this as a stepping stone towards eventually creating affordable homeownership development opportunities under the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning with payment in-lieu directed towards affordable housing. This is a step in the right direction and fills the gaps in the original smart housing mix set in place many years ago.1Leah L.
There’s no silver bullet to our affordable housing crisis. And so when people, when developers specifically, opt in and want to create affordable units, we should make that as easy as possible. One piece that I hope that we continue to study and potentially adjust, is the required terms of affordability of only five years and 10 years for soft seconds [a down payment grant program for first-time homebuyers]. I look forward to more opportunities to study how we do this to community land trusts so that we can make these permanently affordable and serve families generation after generation.2Maxwell C.
I support the smart housing mix, you need much more access to affordable housing in New Orleans.3Kevin F. (online)
Please vote yes. Why not allow the average worker at the city to be able to put down roots and build wealth and equity here? After the Brown’s Dairy debacle [an affordable housing development in Central City that was scrapped—in favor of building short-term rentals. The developers claimed their original vision was not financially viable.] the city should be making it easier for affordable housing developers to build without fear of their projects becoming unviable, as the city is in desperate need of more single family and two-family home ownership opportunities.4Melissa V. (online)
As a middle-aged person making a good living who has never been able to afford to buy a decent home, it’s apparent to me that our nation and especially our city is suffering a housing crisis. The cost of real estate continues to soar arbitrarily, and yet wages are stagnant. Housing advocates have been calling for the city to include homeownership within the smart housing mix for years, and I couldn’t agree more.5Annie M. (online)
To follow up on this issue, you can email your City councilmembers. To submit a public comment, follow instructions at council.nola.gov. Interested in reading all comments after a meeting? You can email your councilmember or file a public records request.
illustration by Sadie Wiese