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For Rent: Unsafe, Overpriced Home for the Holidays

Posted on 03. Dec, 2014 by

New Orleans- Today, a coalition of community organizations including the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) released a white paper that reveals the prevalence of unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the City’s rental homes, in spite of rapidly rising rents.  The data is coupled with stories of frustration from New Orleans renters, which indicate that there is no functional system to process complaints from tenants or inspect rental properties for basic standards of quality and safety.

The paper calls on City leaders to work together to find solutions and address the problem of poor rental conditions in New Orleans. It also notes a recent citywide survey revealed that voters of all stripes support improving the quality of rental housing in New Orleans.

“You shouldn’t be a landlord if you can’t afford a working smoke detector,” says Laura Tuggle, Executive Director of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. “Recent tragedies have taught us that when maintenance is deferred, families and neighborhoods needlessly suffer the consequences.”

The American Housing Survey estimates that more than 5,400 apartments lacked a working smoke detector, over 12,000 leaked from inside or outside the building, and a significant portion faced mold, rodents or incomplete plumbing. The quality of a home has well-documented, tangible impacts on educational and health outcomes, as well as quality of life.

In the face of these hardships, tenants may have little recourse under a code enforcement system that prioritizes vacant properties and regularly face the threat of retaliation from landlords if they complain.

Finally, the paper documents the burden that rising rent costs have on low, middle and upper income households in New Orleans. Overall, 58% of renters in New Orleans are cost-burdened due to high rents, including 44% of middle-income renters (making $35-75,000).

GNOFHAC Assistant Director Kate Scott comments “Whether you’re raising young children or you’re a young single professional, renters across the board in New Orleans have horror stories about the poor conditions and the lack of recourse.  Landlords that try to be good neighbors may face unfair competition from unregulated, negligent landlords who don’t play by the rules. The City’s future depends on our leaders’ willingness to come together and implement solutions to poor- often unsafe- conditions in rental homes.”

Read the white paper here.

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The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private nonprofit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. The activities described in this release were privately funded.

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