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Fair Housing Center Applauds Council Members for Listening to Community Concerns; Urges Legislation

Posted on 12. Feb, 2015 by in News, Policy Updates

During a hearing of the Community Development Committee this afternoon, Councilmembers listened to the concerns of a broad array of community members about the widespread problem of poor conditions in New Orleans rental homes. Individuals and organizations including tenants and landlords testified about their frustrations with the current under-resourced and complaint driven system for code enforcement, along with the need for an affirmative inspection process for all rentals in the City.

Councilmembers Jason Williams and Latoya Cantrell have taken leadership to address longstanding problems with New Orleans rentals, most recently documented in a report issued by a group of community organizations. Though an ordinance has not yet been introduced, the Councilmembers and their staff have indicated that a citywide rental registry program would be most effective in maintaining a baseline standard of health and safety for renters, which make up over half of New Orleans’ population.

Testimony during the hearing painted a disturbing picture of the City’s rentals- Laura Tuggle of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services described a client who is visually impaired and lived in an apartment that had raw sewage running down the walls. There were also landlords present, like Roux Merlo, who voiced their support for an affirmative inspection process that will level the playing field for landlords that want to do right by their tenants.

James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, comments “Nearly every New Orleanian has a horror story when it comes to unsafe conditions in a rental home: calls to a landlord or 311 that were ignored when mold took over the bathroom, kitchen appliances that didn’t work for months, or a leaky roof that ended up ruining a treasured possession. Today’s hearing was a first step towards transforming a legacy of poor quality in many of the City’s rental homes. Now is the time for our leaders to take the next step and introduce legislation that establishes a rental registry that works for New Orleans.”

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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.

Will We See You Today?

Posted on 11. Feb, 2015 by in Actions, Blog, Policy Updates

NolaDeservesBetter

At 2pm, we’re heading to the Community Development Committee hearing at City Hall to let our leaders know that improving conditions in New Orleans rental homes is an important issue that we need them to take on. The committee will be weighing a plan to establish a regular inspection system for rental units to ensure all families have a safe place to call home.

The City Council hearing details are: Read More…

Most Landlords Are Just Trying to do the Right Thing

Posted on 10. Feb, 2015 by in Blog, Participate (for sidebar), Policy Updates

handshake meme

It’s easy to get caught up in the stories about nightmare slumlords, but in a city where most of us—55%–are renters, the truth is that New Orleans has thousands of wonderful landlords: people who care about their neighborhoods, who provide safe, decent housing for families, and who would never ignore issues like sewage leaks and black mold in their units.

You may have heard by now that City Council is weighing a plan to establish a regular inspection system for New Orleans’ rental units. Read More…

Q & A on a New Orleans Rental Registry

Posted on 09. Feb, 2015 by in Actions, Blog, Participate (for sidebar), Policy Updates

Nola Deservesbetter meme2We are so pleased to see Councilmembers Williams and Cantrell bring the issue of health and safety in New Orleans’ rental homes to the attention of the Council.

Many tenants, landlords, and community members have contacted us over the last week about a proposal to improve rental quality through a registry program, that would enforce existing City codes through an affirmative process to improve conditions.  That’s why we created this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide. Read More…

✔ YES on Constitutional Amendment #7

Posted on 20. Oct, 2014 by in Participate (for sidebar), Policy Updates, Uncategorized

Property Tax Exemption for Certain Disabled Veterans

Amendment #7 is a technical clarification for veterans with a 100% service-related disability that should qualify for the veterans’ homestead exemption.  Because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs assigns two separate percentages for veterans with both a 1) 100% service-related disability; and 2) 100% unemployability rating, the proposed amendment just adds “unemployability” to the disability rating to ensure that disabled vets qualify.

This is a no-brainer from a fair housing perspective: helping veterans that were permanently injured in the line of duty maintain better housing choice by helping vets to either purchase or keep the home they have.

City Takes Major Step Forward for Persons with Disabilities

Posted on 28. Aug, 2014 by in News, Policy Updates

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today marks the beginning of public hearings for the New Orleans’ City Planning Commission’s final Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) and a major step forward for persons with disabilities. The new reasonable accommodations policy ensures that all New Orleanians will be able to fully access and enjoy their housing.

A “reasonable accommodations” policy establishes a process by which people with disabilities—or housing providers for differently abled people—can make land use and design requests to the City in order to better use and access housing.

The policy provides clear guidance for both residents and the Planning Commission and is a dramatic improvement from the burdensome and often onerous nature of the process that was in place.

“The City Planning Commission should be congratulated for its commitment to ensuring that all New Orleanians could enjoy and access their home equally, with a clear and reasonable process in place to provide fairness and opportunity,” said Monika Gerhart, Policy Director at the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.

“Not In My Backyard opposition to zoning approval for permanent supportive housing developments has curtailed New Orleans’ efforts to end homelessness,” said Alice Riener, Chief Legal Officer at CrescentCare, formerly known as the NO/AIDS Task Force. “By simplifying the process of granting supportive housing providers the permits to which they are legally entitled, more of CrescentCare’s clients will have safe, affordable places to call home over time.”

“Reasonable accommodations often make the difference between enabling long-time New Orleanians to remain in their homes and their neighborhoods,” said Susan Meyers, Attorney at the Advocacy Center. “Allowing persons with disabilities to construct a ramp or a closer parking spot if needed to make their homes accessible is the law and it is the right thing to do. Empowering the CPC to approve reasonable accommodation requests will ensure that the law is not a dead letter.”

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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.

2014 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Posted on 05. Jun, 2014 by in 2014 News, Blog, News, Participate (for sidebar), Policy Statements, Policy Updates, Uncategorized

Crop State CapThe 2014 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature wrapped last week. GNOFHAC fought vigorously to pass legislation that would expand fair housing protections to the LGBT community and victims of domestic violence, enrolling the support of over 50 organizations statewide, dozens of legislators, and hundreds of individual supporters.

Ultimately, too many Louisiana legislators bowed to hate speech from gay rights opponents and caved in to pressure from the landlord lobby instead of voting to protect domestic violence victims. Proposed legislation was ultimately not passed this year.

However, the outpouring of support from concerned citizens contributed to a gain in new legislative champions and bill sponsors, increased fair housing education amongst legislators, and helped us build strength in a tough environment. We are inspired by the incredible support and excited about the vital connections we built with legislators and partners that will make our chances of success even greater when we return to the Capitol next year.

Thank you for supporting our work by signing petitions, making donations, sending letters to your legislators, and speaking up on behalf of those who need your help the most. Advocates for justice across the state fought some really tough battles this session, but we’ll be back next year. Stay tuned because we’ll need your help again!

Louisiana House of Representatives Votes Against Victims of Domestic Violence

Posted on 29. May, 2014 by in 2014 News, Blog, News, Participate (for sidebar), Policy Statements, Policy Updates

On Thursday, May 29, the Louisiana House of Representatives failed to pass Senate Bill 233 by a vote of 34-63.  SB233 would have provided housing protections to victims of domestic violence.   The bill passed unanimously through a Senate Committee, the Senate Floor, and a House Committee.

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) joined 42 organizations statewide in supporting the leadership of Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Weston Broome to promote better housing options for victims of domestic violence without imposing an undue burden on landlords.  Representative Helena Moreno carried the bill in the House as part of a larger package of successful legislation aimed at enhancing protections for victims of domestic violence.  Speaker Pro Tem Leger and Rep Moreno demonstrated tremendous leadership in skillfully managing over an hour of floor debate. Read More…

The choice to protect domestic violence victims is simple

Posted on 28. May, 2014 by in Actions, Blog, Participate (for sidebar), Policy Statements, Policy Updates

Used and abused; domestic violence conceptWe have a client right now who was evicted from her apartment literally because her ex-boyfriend showed up uninvited and brutalized her to the point of hospitalization. So we’ve pulled out all the stops in order to get state law changed so that this never happens to another woman in Louisiana.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Read More…

FAQ on Senate Bill 233

Posted on 22. May, 2014 by in Blog, News, Policy Updates, Uncategorized

Q&A on SB233

Q: Does SB 233 create a liability for landlords that evict abusers?

A: No.

Q: What if the abuser is found to be innocent?

A: Under SB 233, a perpetrator of domestic violence may lawfully be evicted from housing and barred from returning regardless of whether he has been charged with or convicted of crime relating to the abuse. SB233 simply provides that a victim of crime is not also evicted because of a perpetrator’s actions. Similarly, landlords can legally evict tenants who are charged but not yet convicted of drug crimes. Read More…