Before the COVID pandemic, all but two of the 15 employees at home contractor Charles Aponza lived in the Mid-City and Seventh Ward neighborhoods of New Orleans, where most of the construction firm’s sites are located. I was there.
Today, with the city’s growing shortage of affordable housing, all but two live in less expensive suburbs such as the New Orleans suburbs of Metairie, Kenner, and the West Bank.
“Their commute time is twice as long, so they are using more gas,” says Aponza, who founded Bright Horizons Construction in 2017. ”
Aponza’s situation shows how the shortage of affordable housing in New Orleans and Louisiana is affecting workers and business owners. And the problem is growing. A new study released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Housing LOUISIANA affordable housing advocates suggests that there are less than half of the affordable rental homes or apartments needed in the state. I’m here.
Conducted annually by the Housing Federation, the survey used 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey on the demographic and housing characteristics of 3.5 million addresses nationwide. There are 191,769 ultra-low-income households in Louisiana, defined as households below the federal poverty line or earning only 30% of the regional median income, but there are affordable The survey found that there are only 85,987 households with affordable rental housing.
The federal poverty line is $30,000 in annual income for a family of four.
The problem is even more acute in the New Orleans-Metairie metropolitan area, where nearly one-third of renters are classified as ultra-low-income. Research has shown that there is only about one affordable rental unit available for every four households needed.
“This is getting worse and we need to act,” said Andrea Necia Morris, president of Housing Louisiana and executive director of Housing NOLA, which advocates for more affordable housing. “The problem doesn’t solve itself.”
Local and statewide data reflect national trends. A study by the Housing Federation found a shortage of 7.3 million affordable, ultra-low-income rental homes across the United States.
The Coalition is urging Congress to continue funding income and housing assistance programs that have supported many low-income and low-income families during the pandemic.
The survey comes at a time when affordable housing advocates are mounting criticism of short-term rentals and doubles-to-dormitory projects in neighborhoods across cities.
But while efforts are being made to limit short-term rental permits in residential areas and even some commercial areas, the city has consistently fallen short of its goals of creating more affordable housing.
Last fall, Housing NOLA released its annual scorecard, giving New Orleans a failing rating in expanding the supply of affordable housing, saying the city needs an additional 47,000 affordable units. claimed to be.
Aponza says the issue of affordable housing has directly impacted his business. Longer employee commutes and longer days lead to higher costs that Aponza passes on to its customers.
“Of course, I have to pay them more, but they spend that extra income just to make the theme work,” he said. “It’s really hard, especially with the other cost increases. It’s like whack-a-mole — as soon as something goes down, something else comes up.”
Aponza also said he ironically appreciates that many of the homes his company has built have pushed up neighborhood housing prices, which are now too expensive for employees to live in.
“How do you maintain a city if the people you need to maintain it can’t afford to live there?”