Affordable Housing in NOLA

New report on housing conditions in post-Katrina New Orleans offers immediate and long-term recommendations for fixing the city's decimated fair and affordable housing market

Unless you've been in a coma for the past year, you're well aware that Hurricane Katrina destroyed the homes of hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians. "Nearly 228,000 homes and apartments in New Orleans were flooded, including 39% of all owner-occupied units and 56% of all rental units. Approximately 204,700 housing units in Louisiana either were destroyed or sustained major damage," states a report released Monday (a day before the hurricane's one-year anniversary) by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Opportunity Agenda, and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity on housing conditions in the city. What's notable about "The State of Housing in New Orleans One Year After Katrina," however, is that it offers immediate and long-term recommendations for fixing New Orleans' decimated fair and affordable housing market.

One of the report's short-term recommendations is that the four public housing complexes damaged by Katrina – about 4,500 units altogether – that the Department of Housing and Urban Development plans on destroying and replacing with mixed-income developments should be repaired and opened back up. "There need to be long-term solutions," said NAACP President Bruce Gordon during a telephone news briefing Monday. "The dilemma we have is that there's such a severe shortage of public housing today."

Former and current public-housing residents helped the organizations come up with the recommendations, said Tracie Washington, director of the NAACP's Gulf Coast Advocacy Center, during the briefing. It's not that people don't want mixed-income housing, Washington said. It's that people need places to live for the short term and that evacuees have to be able to get back to New Orleans and have a place to reside in order to be a part of the long-term rebuilding process. "It's clear that there is opportunity for an organized effort involving federal, state, and local [entities]," said Gordon, who defined "short term" as the next six months. Here are some of the report's short- and long-term recommendations.

Immediate Recommendations:

1) Shift all temporary rental assistance programs to HUD's Disaster Voucher Program.

2) Authorize additional housing vouchers to ensure that a portion of rebuilt private housing is affordable to low-income households.

3) Assist low-income homeowners in their efforts to repair or replace damaged homes.

4) Preserve existing federal housing resources in the Gulf Coast.

5) Require that HUD make its plan for New Orleans public housing available for public input.

Longer-Term Recommendations:

1) Require a Housing Opportunity Impact Statement as a condition of public support for future rebuilding efforts.

2) Fully fund the repair and rehabilitation of privately owned housing stock, for both short- and long-term housing needs, and for new construction for long-term needs.

3) Adequately support and enable HUD's Flexible Subsidy Program to provide no- and low-interest loans to damaged HUD project-based housing stock.

4) Fully fund 13,500 new project-based vouchers, tied to the production of new rental units developed through new Gulf Opportunity Zone (GoZone) Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

5) Promote home ownership among low-income families through down-payment-assistance programs and rent-to-own programs.

For the full report, see

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Weed Watch

    North Dakota ag commissioner signs off on final version of proposed state rule that would allow farmers to obtain state approval to grow industrial hemp

    Salvaging Our Parks

    Texas State Parks Advisory Committee releases list of recommendations for saving long-neglected state park system
  • Cyclists Run Over Helmet Law Idea

    Former Mayor Bruce Todd's proposed mandatory bicycle helmet ordinance coasts to a stop for now

    Feds Nab 'Prophet'

    Warren Jeffs – leader of breakaway Mormon sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – caught during a traffic stop just north of Vegas

    Morning-After Pill Approved

    After years of wrangling and delays, FDA accepts a bid to make Plan B emergency contraceptives available for over-the-counter sales t o women 18 and older

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More New Orleans
<i>The Wind in the Reeds</i>
The Wind in the Reeds
Treme actor Wendell Pierce finds Godot and gratitude in post-Katrina New Orleans

Robert Faires, Nov. 27, 2015

Katrina Survivors Reflect 10 Years Later
Katrina Survivors Reflect 10 Years Later
Jamar Jefferson and Donna Bonner are just two of many who relocated to Austin

Kahron Spearman, Aug. 28, 2015

More affordable housing
Eastside Housing Proposals Blow Up at Council
Eastside Housing Proposals Blow Up at Council
"That was crazy"

Austin Sanders, Sept. 25, 2020

Planning Commission Leaders Step Down to Chart Housing Waters
Planning Commission Leaders Step Down to Chart Housing Waters
Conor Kenny and Fayez Kazi look to bring more affordable housing to Austin

Austin Sanders, Sept. 4, 2020

More by Cheryl Smith
Frontera Residents Blast 'Frankenfence'
Frontera Residents Blast 'Frankenfence'
Hatred of feds' planned fence/wall hybrid for region is bipartisan, far-reaching

March 14, 2008

Cross-Border Craziness: Frontera Residents Blast ‘Frankenfence’
Cross-Border Craziness: Frontera Residents Blast ‘Frankenfence’

March 10, 2008


New Orleans, affordable housing, NAACP, The Opportunity Agenda, Kirwan Institute, The State of Housing in New Orleans One Year After Katrina

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle