The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA), alongside hundreds of local community partners, residents and housing advocates will join together for the Put Housing First March at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 in Congo Square to raise awareness and increase community involvement in fighting the city’s affordable housing crisis.

The March will begin in Congo Square with opening remarks from key event organizers and will make two stops at Lafitte Greenway and Tulane/Galvez before concluding at its final destination Duncan Plaza. At each stop, key speakers will talk on a variety of housing issues facing the city including homelessness, transit-oriented development, short-term rentals, and education.

With roughly only 47 affordable rental units for every 100 low-income residents, New Orleans has been in the middle of an affordable housing crisis for well over a decade now, precipitated by the reduction of traditional public housing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and exacerbated by gentrification, the unchecked growth of the luxury rental market and other factors.

Today, about 61 percent of local renters are housing cost-burdened; and 35 percent are severely cost-burdened. The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines cost-burdened renters as those “who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing and face difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care. ” Severe rent burden is defined as paying more than 50 percent of one’s income on rent.

The numbers are better for homeowners, but nothing to celebrate.  About 32 percent of homeowners are cost-burdened; and 14 percent are severely cost burdened.  Meanwhile, the median home value has risen more than 12. 5 percent, increasing from $192,000 in 2014 to $219,700 in 2016.  And while homeowners are not nearly as cost-burdened as renters, rising home prices can make down payments and property tax bills soar—keeping home ownership out of reach for many.

Put Housing First March organizers are calling upon elected officials to address the city’s affordable housing crisis and support equitable housing policies.

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