Join our email list!
  • Tools:
  •  A-  A+
    Site Map Translate    Traduccion    Dịch thuật

Celebrating a win for tax abatement to fight gentrification

Posted on 23. Jul, 2019 by in Blog

Last month, the Louisiana State Legislature approved a pair of bills, SB 79 and SB 80, that are designed to address the city’s affordable housing crisis. The passage of these bills, under the leadership of Senator Troy Carter, is a big win for fair housing.  But because changes to tax policy in Louisiana require a constitutional amendment, it still needs voter approval via state ballot in October.

A lack of affordable housing continues to plague New Orleans, as a large number of workers – especially those in the tourism and hospitality industries – are overburdened by their housing costs. Recent research highlights a mismatch between wages earned and costs of owning or renting a home, where growth in costs far outpaces growth in wages. On average, those who make 75% less than the city’s median income pay only 25% less than median housing-related expenditures. Among other causes, the rise of Airbnb as alternative tourist lodging has accelerated the general trend of rising rents, most severely in neighborhoods adjacent to the French Quarter like Tremé, Central City, and the 7th Ward. These historically Black renter neighborhoods are rapidly gentrifying to the point that low-income workers who have resided there for generations can no longer afford their homes. These residents are often the same people who create and maintain the tourism industry that attracts visitors from around the world. Affordable housing would preserve not just individuals’ livelihoods, but also the culture of New Orleans.

The citywide tax assessment that will be complete by the end of this year exacerbates concerns about rising home prices. The continuing spike in home prices since the last assessment in 2015 will mean increased tax assessments. Accordingly, residents in the most quickly-gentrifying neighborhoods have expressed fears that with higher tax bills, they’ll have no choice but to cut spending in other areas of life or will be pressed to sell their home entirely. The impact of new tax assessments, however, is still unclear and will depend largely on the approval of pending measures like tax-relief for long-time low-income homeowners.

If approved by voters this Fall, these bills will become an amendment to the state constitution  that will allow New Orleans to freeze or reduce property taxes for low-income homeowners and small-scale landlords who want to keep or create affordable units. Ultimately, this is an efficient route to increasing affordable housing stock in a unique fashion that helps both renters and homeowners without the complications of reliance on federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). It is clear that unique approaches are needed: a call for at least 1,500 more affordable units in New Orleans last year was answered with just 84 units built.

Both fair housing advocates and government officials agree that this is a practical way to address the city’s affordable housing crisis. It presents an opportunity for long-term residents to build and maintain wealth in historically neglected neighborhoods that are at risk of gentrification-driven displacement. Most importantly, tax relief is a measure that directly benefits suffering residents who need support to continue to afford their homes.

One step closer to effective short-term rental regulations

Posted on 12. Jul, 2019 by in Blog

After three years of debate and pressure from advocates, neighbors, and city planners to better regulate short term rentals (STR) in New Orleans, the City Planning Commission (CPC) recently voted to endorse the newest STR study – a hopeful step towards passing an effective set of regulations by the July 25th Council meeting. Per the request of City Council, this study considered the provision of several exemptions to the new set of proposed STR regulations but generally rejected them, asserting that the regulations must be given a chance to work before they can be adequately modified.

Last month, the City Council proposed a set of stricter STR regulations championed by Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, which address and validate claims that STRs are inherently destructive to the residential fabric of neighborhoods. The new changes would re-write the city’s permissive STR code implemented in 2016, most drastically altering the STR landscape by prohibiting a single operator from having more than one STR residential permit and requiring that the operator reside on the same property. This would effectively eliminate thousands of STR listings that fall into the “temporary license” type, previously the easiest to qualify for and thus most pervasive in the city. As that proposal moved forward, some Councilmembers also requested further study of the potential benefits of STRs as economic development tools in certain neighborhoods and whether exemptions to the one-permit-per-person rule could spur development in those areas. 

The study was presented and opened up for public comment at a CPC meeting on June 25th.

CPC staff began by summarizing the study, which – in addition to evaluating the creation of an Economic Development Incentive STR Zone – discusses increasing the cap on the number of commercial STRs in a corridor, and the possibility of “grandfathering” existing temporary license holders. On these concerns, it concludes that regulations should be implemented in their baseline form before being watered down or before the Council adds any exceptions. It points to peer cities with even stricter restrictions and finds little relationship between STR presence and local commercial activity. Most firmly, it argues against a grandfather provision: the “temporary license” was designed to be short-lived by definition.

A host of passionate advocates, professionals, and community leaders backed the study’s recommendations and urged CPC to keep moving forward in establishing regulations that address STRs’ harmful spillover into the acceleration of gentrification and exacerbation of the city’s affordable housing crisis. Speakers told anecdotes of watching their tourist “neighbors” take an Uber from their STR to Bourbon Street without stopping to explore the neighborhood or patronize neighborhood businesses. Some argued that STRs can never equitably function as a development incentive. On grandfathering, Breonne DeDecker of Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative reminded the CPC that its role is to promote policies that protect its citizens, not the investments of speculators.A motion to endorse the study’s recommendations was passed unanimously by the commissioners. CPC’s support of this study puts the new regulations in a good position to be formally approved at the July 25th Council meeting, which will significantly shrink the scope of STRs in New Orleans, hopefully to the benefit of residents. 

HUD Proposes Cutting Back LGBTQ+ Discrimination Protections as Pride Month Begins

Posted on 08. Jun, 2019 by in Blog


Source: The National Center for Transgender Equality

On May 23rd, one week before the start of Pride Month, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced their proposal to roll back the protections granted by the Equal Access Rule, which requires federally-funded shelters to house residents in shelters that match their own gender identity.

The proposed changes would let shelter providers use “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs, any relevant considerations under civil rights and non-discrimination authorities, the individual’s sex as reflected on court document, as well as the gender which person identifies with” to determine where to house residents.    

Sunu P. Chandy, legal director of the National Women’s Law Center, notes that “a person’s outdated identification documents, or someone else’s religious views” could be used to dictate their sex, directly contradicting HUD’s responsibility to ensure that “every person participating in [their] programs has equal access to them without being arbitrarily excluded.” The change would allow a sex-segregated shelter, for example, to house a transgender person on the basis of the sex inaccurately listed on their outdated ID card rather than their accurate, personal identification — the type of situation that HUD has in the past cited as potentially unsafe for transgender individuals.  

When introducing the “Final Equal Access Rule” in 2016, HUD explicitly mentioned that their motivation for the rule’s introduction was, in part, the evidence provided by homeless service providers, who found that “transgender persons are often discriminatorily excluded from shelters or face dangerous conditions in the shelters that correspond to their sex assigned at birth”.

An estimated 20-40% of the 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States are LGBTQ+, and 20% of transgender Americans have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.This is a striking disparity: among the entire US population, just under 2% were homeless in 2018.  

The 2015 US Transgender Survey found that 70% of the transgender respondents who reported staying in a shelter in 2014 reported mistreatment in the form of harassment, sexual or physical assault, or being kicked out, because they were transgender.  Furthermore, 26% of respondents who experienced homelessness in 2014 avoided staying in a shelter altogether for fear of such mistreatment.  

Evidence clearly shows that the LGBTQ+ community faces homelessness and resultantly relies on shelters at a much higher rate than the general American public.  At the same time, this community experiences unparalleled levels of unequal, discriminatory treatment when engaging with these necessary services. Housing and civil rights advocates across the country have spoken out against the proposal that would only allow increased discrimination against an already vulnerable population, and call on HUD to “re-commit itself to its critically important mission”.

If you would like to keep up to date on this issue as well as other current fair housing issues, click here to sign up for GNOFHAC’s Action Alerts! 

Welcome our 2018 Summer Interns and Law Clerks!

Posted on 13. Jun, 2018 by in Blog

 

Madeline Aruffo is a third-year law student at Tulane University School of Law. Prior to law school, Madeline attended Boston University, and double majored in philosophy and psychology. She has a passion for housing equality and public interest law, and loves living in New Orleans. 

 

 

Cameron Bertron is the president of her second-year class at Tulane University Law School and serves on the executive board of the Entertainment and Art Law Society.  She grew up in North Florida and worked in film production in New York City before attending law school. Bertron earned her BFA from Florida State University.

 

 

   

Christopher Kerrigan is a second-year law student at Loyola New Orleans College of Law. Mr. Kerrigan previously served as a City Councilmember in Eureka, California from 2000-2008. Mr. Kerrigan has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Humboldt State University and and Masters of Science in Political Psychology from Queen’s University Belfast. He also enjoys playing tennis.

 

 

Maya Newman is an undergraduate at Tulane University, majoring in Sociology and Social Policy and minoring in Public Health. She became passionate about fair housing policy as an intern at the New Orleans Mission, where she assisted formerly homeless people with their housing searches. Maya is excited to promote the right to safe, affordable, and fair housing for all in Louisiana. 

 

 

Aviv Rau is a senior at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she studies Sociology and American Studies. Outside of the classroom, Aviv is engaged with Connecticut’s labor rights movement and co-hosts a podcast called Unwind the Line. An Atlanta native, Aviv is excited to spend the summer in New Orleans interning with GNOFHAC’s Education and Outreach department. 

 

 

Patrick Wroe, originally from Austin, Texas, is interning this summer with GNOFHAC through the Leadership in Educational Equity Summer Fellowship, in partnership with Teach for America. After graduating from Tulane University with a degree in finance, he joined Arthur Ashe Charter School as a 7th grade Special Education teacher and spent the past two years in the classroom ensuring his students received quality education. Patrick is excited to join GNOFHAC this summer and support the policy and advocacy work on fair housing issues throughout Louisiana.

 

Best Friends Day: Fair Housing and Assistance Animals

Posted on 08. Jun, 2018 by in Blog

June 8th is National Best Friends Day. For many, their best friend is their pet; for some, their furry friend isn’t just a pet, but an animal that provides necessary assistance or service they need due to a disability. Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers are required to make reasonable and necessary accommodations to people with disabilities, including allowing a service or assistance animal. 

An assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. For example, an assistance animal could be a cat that alleviates the symptoms of depression or anxiety. Any animal can be an assistance animal (as long as it it necessary and reasonable) and a housing provider must accept a letter from a doctor, psychiatrist, social worker, or someone familiar with the disability as proof of the need for an assistance animal.

A service animal is a dog or pony that is trained to do work or perform tasks for someone with a disability. For example, a service animal could be a guide dog, or a dog that can detect blood sugar changes in a person with diabetes and warn them if their blood sugar gets too high or too low. If the need for a service animal is not obvious, a housing provider may ask: (1) is this a service animal that is required because of a disability? and (2) what work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

Housing providers cannot charge a pet fee or pet deposit, or enforce breed or size restrictions, for a service or assistance animal. If your housing provide has denied your request for an accommodation due to a disability, such as allowing you to have an assistance or service animal, call the GNO Fair Housing Action Center at 877-445-2100.

How you can get involved

Posted on 30. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

Today is the last day of Fair Housing Month, but our work for fair housing continues throughout the year. Here’s how you can get involved and continue to fight discrimination and segregation across Louisiana:

  1. Donate to GNOFHAC on Give NOLA Day 

    On Tuesday, May 1st, every dollar donated to New Orleans non-profits through givenola.org will be boosted by extra funds from the Give NOLA Lagniappe Fund. The goal of Give NOLA Day is to inspire the community to come together to support the work of local nonprofit organizations. GNOFHAC is the only full-service fair housing center in Louisiana, and your donation will fight for those who’ve been harassed, turned down or evicted because of who they are. Schedule your donation now!

  2. Sign-up for action alerts

    Our action page can help you stay engaged on all the issues that matter to you.  Please use this page to find and track legislation, look up your lawmaker, register to vote, and access tools you need to build a more inclusive community. Subscribe to our email list to stay up-to-date on GNOFHAC policy initiatives and community events.

  3. Become a tester

    Testers, also known as “mystery shoppers,” are people in the community who take on the role of a perspective homeowner or renter to help fair housing centers investigate discrimination. Testing involves using people with similar profiles, but who differ in one protected characteristic, such as race or family status. Testers need a flexible schedule and they are provided with a small stipend. 

  4. Invite GNOFHAC to do a fair housing training at your organization or school

    GNOFHAC provides trainings tailored to the needs of your organization. Participants of these trainings include landlords, real estate agents, management staff, mental health service providers, tenants, neighborhood associations, and many more. We also conduct fair housing workshops for students in grades K-8. Learn more about The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House, GNOFHAC’s original children’s book that tells the story of kids who take action in their neighborhood in response to a landlord who is discriminating. It is designed to initiate conversations between parents, caregivers, teachers and children about housing discrimination, systemic inequality, and the important role that we all have in ending both.

     

Our 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil

Posted on 26. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

Our 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil was a success! Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating Fair Housing Month and the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. We appreciate all of your support! 

 

Posted on 16. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

Did you buy a home in the last 10 years in the Greater New Orleans area?

What do you know about your hazard insurance coverage?

What were you told about the hazards that your new home faces?

If you are over 18 years of age, we would like to hear about your experiences with property and hazard insurance, and your home’s risk disclosures. Please join a one-time discussion group on Saturday, May 12, hosted by The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP).

Participation DETAILS:

  • 1.5 hour discussion, located nearby
  • You will receive $25 cash for participation
  • Participation is voluntary. You may choose to withdraw or refuse to answer any questions that you are not comfortable with. Your participation will not affect any service you may or can receive from partners or others, such as insurance companies.
  • Your name and shared comments will be kept confidential by project staff.
  • Participation is limited to the first 14 people per session.
  • Only one person per household is eligible to participate.
  • The session will be conducted by staff from the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC, in coordination with the two local organizations—none of whom are affiliated with any builders, insurance company, or public agency.
  • This work is funded by the National Academy of Sciences’ Gulf Research Program, and statements you make during the discussion will be used to develop a survey of other Greater New Orleans residents.

TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT AND RECEIVE DETAILS,
PLEASE CALL 1 (504) 507-9909
or email HomeResilience@urban.org

Fair Housing Month Events

Posted on 02. Apr, 2018 by in Blog, Events

April 3rd: Landlord-Tenant and Fair Housing Laws: Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities (Lafayette, LA)

GNOFHAC will conduct a training on landlord-tenant and fair housing laws from 9:30am-12:30pm at 301 W Congress St. in Lafayette, Louisiana. The training is free and open to the public.

April 5th: GNOFHAC presents at New Orleans City Council Meeting

GNOFHAC is speaking at the opening of Thursday’s Council Meeting at 10am to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and share our upcoming events and trainings in honor of National Fair Housing Month. 

April 5th: Fair Housing and Gender-Based Violence Training (Monroe, LA)

GNOFHAC is partnering with Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault for a training on fair housing, sexual assault and sexual harassment at the Public Safety Center at 1810 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Monroe from 1-4pm. There is no cost to participate, but please register here.

 

 

 


April 11th: The 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

VOTE and STAND with Dignity are having a Fair Housing for All Second Line on April 11th at 5pm, beginning at MLK Blvd. and Willow St.

 

 

 

 

 

April 14th: Fair Housing Workshop at LA Queer Conference

GNOFHAC will conduct a Know Your Rights Workshop at the Louisiana Queer Conference. Visit their website for more information or to register.

April 16th: Know Your Housing Rights Training at Tulane University

GNOFHAC is conducting a Know Your Rights Training at the Lavin Bernick Center at Tulane University on April 16th from 4:30-6pm. The training is free and open to the public.

 

 

 

April 19th: Know Your Rights Training at NORAPC

GNOFHAC is conducting a Know Your Housing Rights training with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, and the New Orleans Regional Aids Planning Council on April 19th from 5-7pm at NORAPC, 2601 Tulane Ave in the 2nd floor conference center. The training is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Gregory at (504) 821-7334.

 

 

 

April 20th: Know Your Housing Rights and Responsibilities Training (Kenner, LA)

GNOFHAC is conducting a Know Your Housing Rights and Responsibilities Training on April 20th from 9:30-11:30am for tenants and landlords at the Martin Luther King Community Resource Center at 1042 31st St. in Kenner. The training is free and open to the public.

 

 

 

April 25th: 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil

Join GNOFHAC for our 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil on April 25th from 5:30-7:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.  

 

 

 

 

 

April 26th: Red Lines and Keep Out Signs: 300 Years of Discrimination, Divestment & Displacement In New Orleans

Join the GNOFHAC for a panel discussion on 300 years of segregation in New Orleans with Dr. Stacy Seicshnaydre, Associate Professor of Law at Tulane Law School, Dr. Robert Collins, Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy at Dillard University, and Cashauna Hill, Executive Director at GNOFHAC. The panel will be moderated by Maxwell Ciardullo, Director of Policy and Communications at GNOFHAC. The panelists will discuss the findings of their new Data Center report, Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk, on April 26th from 6-8pm at Propeller Incubator, 4035 Washington Ave.

April 28th: Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House Story Time

Join GNOFHAC staff for a story time reading of our children’s book, Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House, at the Algiers Regional Library on Saturday, April 28th at 2:30pm. The story time is intended for ages 5 and up.

 

 

 

 

April 30th: Fair Housing 101 for Small Landlords

GNOFHAC is conducting a free fair housing training for small landlords on April 30th at Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal at 2919 St. Charles Ave. from 6-7:30pm. The presentation will include case studies and best practices tailored to the needs and experiences of small landlords.There is no cost to attend, but participants must register here.

Open Neighborhoods Project

Posted on 23. Feb, 2018 by in Blog

New Orleans is facing a growing affordability crisis. In a city where wages remain stagnant while rent prices continue to increase, 57% of renters spend at least a third of their income on rent and 31% of renters spend more than half.

The affordability crisis is pushing out the people who make the city special, including our musicians, seniors, and hospitality workers.

If you are a landlord or housing provider committed to preserving the New Orleans we love, join GNOFHAC and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) to learn more about opportunities to address this growing crisis, and meet fellow landlords committed to keeping New Orleans open to all.

GNOFHAC and HANO will be discussing the Housing Choice Voucher Program and we want to hear your advice on what can make the program work better for landlords. 

There is no commitment required, but please fill out this form if you are interested, and we will get back to you with more information.