Cantrell discusses future of affordable housing in New Orleans

Updated: Aug. 7, 2019 at 9:00 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The mayor’s office kicked off an affordable housing tour Wednesday (Aug. 7), as part of an effort to engage the community in the conversation towards more affordable housing in the city.

This, after residents across the city have spoken up after seeing higher home assessments, prompting worry over a sharp increase in property taxes that some say, they cannot afford.

People had mixed reactions walking out of a meeting hosted by Mayor Latoya Cantrell in the 9th Ward Wednesday night. They brought with them a variety of issues -- ranging from neighborhood development, blighted properties and plots to concern that their new property taxes could force them from their homes.

Some spoke in opposition new taxes that Cantrell spoke about, and other said if it would help move the city forward, they would support the measure.

But, one of the things the mayor did throw her support behind was a constitutional amendment that voters statewide will decide on in November.

“To use that ad valorem tax as tax incentives that are all targeted towards creating affordable housing, it happens in other places but for our structure and form of government, there are things New Orleans and other municipalities cannot do without the approval of a statewide vote, so that’s why it’s on the ballot come November,” Cantrell explained. “It is for Orleans only, and let me tell you that was a push.”

The amendment has already been passed by Louisiana’s legislature, but needs voter approval as well. If it is passed, the measure would allow New Orleans city leaders to have more control over property taxes from property assessments.

The second issue Cantrell pleaded with voters to pass is a potential millage that’s wrapped in with bonds the mayor’s office wants to take out, that would be earmarked for drainage and affordable housing efforts. The city council has not approved that millage yet, but there is a council meeting Thursday, where they’re expected to discuss and potentially vote to put it on the ballot.

“People are scared that raising property taxes and assessments will pushed them out of their homes,” Cantrell said. “The more focus we put on the blighted housing stock in this city, the more balance it will create. When you only have a minimal portion of homes that are right for living in, and blight all around those are inhabitable, those prices go sky-high when you put more on the market.”

The mayor also answered other questions, regarding overgrown lots and the lack of development in the 9th Ward. She said they will have a conversation with the fire department about controlled burns across multiple lots and, she said she supports local developers working in the area.

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