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Affordable housing increasingly difficult goal for New Orleans residents

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

A new study shows Louisianans are getting paid the same, but rental and mortgage costs are on the rise. Housing leaders say the growing gap underscores the need for more affordable housing in New Orleans and the state.

According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment in New Orleans you have to make almost $20 an hour. Those who have chosen to live here say whether they're paying rent or a mortgage, it's a constant battle.

During the week, Sean Zemke works a full-time job at a local restaurant. He says this town is where he wants to call home, maybe even buy a home.

“I want to start having investments I’m 25 and want to start having things to show for you know,” he said.

There's one thing getting in his way: rent.

“It’s tough to do anything extra; paying that much with rent it’s hard to save. I definitely pay more than 50 percent of my salary per year on rent,” Zemke said.

Derrick Brown's story isn't much different. He and his wife are newlyweds. He says they can afford more together than apart, but it’s still a struggle.

“We still work we have to work every day to survive that's why we come out here to enjoy what we can pretty much,” said Brown.

Fred Johnson with the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Foundation works to educate people on budgets and home ownership, eventually helping to place people in homes they can afford.

“We use the term housing first because where people live is what matters,” said Johnson.

He’s working with more clients, but says it's growing more difficult to place people for two reasons: income restrictions and housing price points. He says he's seen this trend too often and is calling on city leaders to get involved.

“We need to get our arms around this and figure out how to bring as many partners to the collaboration table and figure out a way to put as many tools int hat tool box,” said Johnson.

Johnson says rent should be about 30 percent of your total budget. But according to the housing coalition, 60 percent of New Orleans renters pay too much.

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