Subscribe  
  • Tools:
  •  A-  A+
    Site Map Translate    Traduccion    Dịch thuật

One step closer to effective short-term rental regulations

Posted on 12. Jul, 2019 by

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. 

Comment today on proposed rule to evict mixed status families

Posted on 09. Jul, 2019 by

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently published a proposal that would prohibit financial assistance to persons other than United States citizens or certain categories of eligible noncitizens in HUD’s public and specified assisted housing programs. The proposed rule changes are intended to prohibit families in which at least one member is undocumented from obtaining subsidized housing. If accepted, this would mean that mixed status families would no longer be allowed in public housing, likely displacing at least 55,000 children and thousands more adults from their homes – most of whom are citizens or legally permitted to live in the US. The rule would also prevent undocumented immigrants from serving as lease holders. 

Current rules bar undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies but allow mixed immigration status families to live in subsidized housing as long as one household member is a legal resident of the United States. According to the HUD analysis, more than 108,000 people receiving benefits are living in a household with at least one undocumented immigrant. Although members of a family who are in the US legally would be allowed to stay in their homes, it is unlikely that many would do so in an effort to avoid family separation, such as the displacement of one or both of a child’s parents or guardians.

Since subsidies are distributed based on the number of eligible members of the family, replacing households of mixed status with households with only eligible residents would cost HUD at least $193 million. It is likely that HUD would redirect resources to cover these costs, rather than congress allocating additional funds to make up for the shortfall. Doing so could affect the number of households on the waiting list to receive housing who actually get it. Cutting into the budget for maintenance of units could also further reduce the quality and safety of public housing stock. If the rule goes into effect, undocumented immigrants living in public housing would not be immediately required to vacate, a HUD official said. Those affected would be given up to 18 months, through three six-month waivers, to relocate.

Public comments on the rule are due by July 9th, 2019. For more information on how to submit comments and resources about this proposed rule, please visit the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Housing Law Project’s Keep Families Together campaign at https://www.keep-families-together.org/.

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

Posted on 08. Jun, 2019 by


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! 

GNOFHAC Issues Letter Exposing Unlawful Racial Animus in Opposition to Mixed-Income Development in the Bywater

Posted on 20. May, 2019 by

Last week, GNOFHAC’s Executive Director Cashauna Hill submitted a letter to the New Orleans City Council and Mayor documenting coded racism and double standards present in the opposition to a proposed mixed-income development in the Bywater neighborhood at 4100 Royal St. Without a vote from the Council in support of a zoning change on Thursday, May 23rd, the development and the 82 affordable apartments it will bring to the gentrified neighborhood will die.

The letter suggests that failure to approve the proposed development could have the effect of further entrenching segregation in an increasingly white and exclusive neighborhood, and would possibly violate the Fair Housing Act.

The letter points out that opponents of the development, including Neighbors First for Bywater (NFB), have left a detailed record showing that at least some of the opposition to the proposed plans for the site are driven by unlawful racial animus and is driven by race-based stereotyping. At public meetings and in written comments, many opponents have suggested the development will bring drug dealing, “prostitution,” “become a ghetto,” and “destroy [the neighborhood],” while arguing to leave the site a vacant lot or turn it into a dog park.

The Architectural Review Committee (ARC) of the HDLC similarly suggested the density of the development would “foster neighborhood problems,” and “radiate dysfunction and blight.”

Despite the opposition ostensibly focusing on the density and height of the development, the letter also notes that NFB and the ARC publicly supported development of the Saxony, a luxury condominium development that is one story higher and more dense than the proposed development at the Royal Street site. The Saxony—only three blocks from the proposed mixed-income development—was built on half a city block, is five stories, and holds 75 units; while the Royal St. development contemplates four stories and 136 units spread out over an entire city block.

“The opposition to this project is clearly utilizing a double standard—supporting half million dollar condos that will disproportionately serve wealthy white people—while opposing less dense affordable housing that will create space for some of the African Americans who have been pushed out of this neighborhood to return,” said Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. You can read the full letter here.

Moms deserve fairness, not housing discrimination

Posted on 10. May, 2019 by

Mother’s Day is around the corner. Do you know your housing rights? Under the Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal for a landlord to discriminate against families with children. This type of discrimination has been illegal since 1988, but unfortunately, it still happens every day. According to the National Fair Housing Alliance’s most recent report, there were 2,675 fair housing complaints filed in 2017 by families who believed they’d been treated unfairly because they had children (https://nationalfairhousing.org/2018-fair-housing-trends-report/).

It’s likely that discrimination against families with children happens much more often than that, because often discrimination is subtle and families might not realize they are being treated unfairly. Families also might not know that what happened to them was against the law, or that there are places to go for free help, like GNOFHAC.

There are lots of ways that discrimination against parents with children might look. A landlord might say flat-out that they don’t rent to people with children, or that they specifically won’t rent to pregnant applicants, parents with babies, or parents with teenagers. More often, a landlord won’t come out and say that they don’t rent to families with children, but they will discourage you from applying or give you the run-around once they find out that you have children. A landlord might also say that a property isn’t suited to families with kids – that there’s no yard, for example, or that stairs or a balcony aren’t safe – but deciding whether a property is a good fit for the family is a parent’s decision, not a housing provider’s. Landlords might also say that you have too many children for a particular apartment. While it’s reasonable for a landlord to have occupancy standards for health or safety reasons, sometimes those rules are too restrictive in a way that hurts families, and that can also be against the law. Once you’ve moved into the property, housing discrimination can still happen. For example, a landlord may ask for a higher security deposit because you have children, or have special rules that only apply to kids. Each of these things can violate the law as well.

If you think you’ve experienced housing discrimination, either because you have children or because of the number of children you have, or because of another factor such as your race, color, religion, national original, sex or gender, sexual orientation or disability, call the GNO Fair Housing Action Center at (877) 445-2100 or file a complaint online at http://www.gnofairhousing.org/file-a-complaint/. Help is free and confidential.

GNOFHAC ends Fair Housing Month with a very special story time!

Posted on 03. May, 2019 by

On April 30th, Mayor LaToya Cantrell read GNOFHAC’s original children’s book, The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House, to children and families at the East New Orleans Regional Library. The reading was the last of a series of community events GNOFHAC hosted during April to celebrate Fair Housing Month, and it was a lot of fun!

We were so excited to have the support of the Mayor’s office. Vincenzo Pasquantonio, Director of the Office of Human Rights and Equity explained that, “Both the anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and the City’s recent tricentennial call on us to reflect on past injustices and commit to future policies that foster equity and opportunity for all New Orleanians.” Kids and parents at the event chatted with the Mayor about how to do just that.

The Fair Housing Five is an illustrated children’s book about kids who take action in their neighborhood in response to a landlord who is discriminating. It was written by GNOFHAC in collaboration with educators, parents and students and 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. In addition to the book, GNOFHAC offers several interaction youth workshops for students of all ages. For more information about how to bring The Fair Housing Five to your school or organization, please visit www.fairhousingfive.org.

We can stop forcing Louisianans from their homes

Posted on 29. Apr, 2019 by

We see couches, cribs, and family keepsakes piled on our streets far too often. That’s because Louisiana makes it easier than nearly any other state for landlords to force people from their homes. State legislators have a chance to change our laws.

Senate Bill 28, by Sen. Ed Price, would bring us into alignment with the rest of the country and provide us one opportunity every six months to get current on rent within 10 days, before the courts get involved. Most mom and pop landlords already do this because getting courts involved cost money and so does finding a new tenant. Read more about the rest of the fixes in SB 28 here.

These are simple solutions that even our neighbors in Mississippi and Alabama have employed for decades. Forcing Louisianans from their homes is a choice we don’t have to keep making. 

How communities are fighting to save New Orleans from an Airbnb takeover

Posted on 27. Apr, 2019 by

A sign on the porch of a house in the Bywater neighborhood protests the proliferation of Airbnbs in New Orleans. Photo by the author.

Originally published at https://www.scalawagmagazine.org/2019/04/new-orleans-airbnb/. Reposted with permission.

Along Governor Nicholls street in New Orleans there are cars from all across the country parked in front of renovated shotguns and Creole cottages. The plates bear the origins of the travelers: some hail from nearby Mississippi, Alabama, or Arkansas, while others have descended upon the Big Easy from farther-flung corners of the U.S.: Vermont, New York, Michigan.

New Orleans has long drawn visitors from across the country and the world. Now many of those tourists are spending their nights in Airbnbs.

In the half-mile stretch between Rampart Street and Claiborne Avenue, over a dozen of the houses on Governor Nicholls are rented out via the website, rendering the road more like a string of hotels than a cohesive community.

Read More…

Fair Housing Legislative Updates

Posted on 25. Apr, 2019 by

Image of a New Orleans shotgun style home.
The Louisiana Legislature is in full swing. Several bills may help Louisianans stay in our homes—whether we rent or own—even as prices climb.

1) Senate bills 79 and 80 by Sen. Troy Carter will allow the City of New Orleans to reduce taxes on long-time, lower-income homeowners to ensure we aren’t gentrified out of our homes by skyrocketing tax assessments. It can also be used to offer incentives to landlords to keep rents low when affordability expires. In New Orleans we value our culture and traditions and know that without the people who create and maintain them, we lose everything that makes us so unique.



2) Another bill by Sen. Ed Price will ensure we aren’t forced from our homes whenever we face an unexpected medical bill or car breakdown. Senate bill 28 would provide us one opportunity every six months to get current on rent within 10 days, before the courts get involved. As it stands now, landlords can force us from our homes if we’re only one day late or one dollar short.

3) This session HB 422 would let local governments raise their own minimum wages and SB 155 would raise the state minimum wage. There are also equal pay bills like HB 63 and SCR 2 to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment.
Even if you can’t make it to the Capitol, follow us on Facebook for updates.

How to Recognize Racial Discrimination in Rentals

Posted on 18. Apr, 2019 by

There are a million reasons why trying to find a new apartment is stressful and challenging. When looking for a new place you may be asking yourself: Can I afford the rent? Is it in a location that I like? Is the house big enough for my family? Unfortunately, many people in our community also find themselves asking if they will be denied because of their race.

According to GNOFHAC’s mystery shopper investigations, African American potential renters are treated worse than equally qualified white potential renters about half of the time. That means Black renters have to look at twice as many apartments and work twice as hard in order to find a place to live. To deny or discourage someone from renting because of their race is against the law, but it still happens all too often. Because housing discrimination is often hard to detect, it’s unfortunately not always easy to know if you’re experiencing discrimination or if the apartment just didn’t work out.

So how do you recognize racial discrimination in the rental market? The first thing to do is listen to your gut. Did something about your interaction with the landlord just seem off? Pay attention if something didn’t feel right to you. Some examples of red flags to keep an out for include:

  • A housing provider telling you that a rental was available when you contacted them by email, but then telling you it had been rented when they heard your voice or saw you in person.
  • A housing provider suggesting that you look at their properties in another neighborhood instead of the one you are interested in.
  • A housing provider not returning your calls or keeping appointments, or outright discouraging you from even applying.
  • Being told that certain amenities that were advertised are not available or different after meeting with a housing provider.
  • A housing provider asking unnecessary questions about your qualifications or how you would treat the house.
  • A housing provider making a comment based on stereotypes or that makes you feel uncomfortable.

If you think you’ve experienced discrimination because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or because you have children, please call the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center at (504) 596-2100 or (877) 445-2100. Help is free and confidential.