Mayoral candidates Latoya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet talk affordable housing deficit

Mayoral candidates focus on affordable housing

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Housing affordability is an ongoing discussion in the city post-Katrina. HousingNOLA, a partnership between the community and public, private and non-profit organizations, believes nearly 34,000 additional affordable housing units will be needed by 2025.

FOX 8 News asked mayoral candidates Latoya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet about their plans to develop more affordable housing.

"Sure, well, the plan calls for about 30,000 units, you know, that we need over time…those soft seconds [mortgages], those gap funding options are critical I would use housing resources that are allocated to the community development within city government," said Cantrell.

"We have to make sure that we don't let all of the prime spots be taken up by developments that are only going to put up high-rise, expensive buildings, we've got to mix some lower to moderate income places in there, as well," said Charbonnet.

According to HousingNOLA, in 2016 the number of renters with a so-called "cost burden" was 61 percent, and homeowners with a cost burden was 32 percent.

"Number one, one of the problems with affordable housing is that our median income here is $36,000 Orleans," added Charbonnet.

The city has long had the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund, which gets its funds from a tax.

"It is a millage, and my goal while it's on the down slope, we have about four years left on it, my goal is to show the citizens of New Orleans that we're using their money wisely to provide those gap financing options to provide soft seconds, to provide payment and closing cost options, to be very creative in how we use those dollars to stabilize neighborhoods, that we do such a good job that it is up for renewal it will be no question to the voters as to why they vote to renew it," Cantrell said.

"I want to encourage home ownership, as well. You know 60 percent of the people here rent. I want people to have affordable housing and a house where they're paying a mortgage that they can afford, as well. We can use blight, get some of the blight off of the street, so that people can start being homeowners," Charbonnet said.

The candidates were asked whether they would support more incentives for developers that would come at the expense of taxpayers.

"Well, if it has anything with a new tax, no, if it's something that's already built in I'd consider it. You know, what I want to do is get those developers and get all the housing advocates in the same room and let's talk. I don't think that happens enough here, so that we can figure out what are their restrictions or reservations about why they don't want to include as many low-to-moderate income properties, or apartments within their developments," Charbonnet said.

"Government is the biggest partner in this, you know, and as it was when I was leading Broadmoor you can't skip over government, the biggest pockets, you know, but we have to be forceful in advancing the laws and rules that are on the books relative to the covenants that these organizations signed to receive tax dollars to develop properties in our city," said Cantrell.

To watch the full interviews with both candidates on numerous topics, including the credit card and travel controversy, crime, drainage and economic development, go to the FOX 8 News app, and check the "Vote Louisiana" section.

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