NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -With almost a perpetual "now hiring" sign in the window, CFO of Juan’s Burrito, David Greengold says he's seen his restaurant change over the years.
“We’ve been here since 2002 and before Katrina my entire staff lived in a 4 block radius, now that's not the case at all,” he said. “Lots of people are coming from New Orleans East and the west bank, and that’s a long way to go.”
Not only that, but Greengold estimates about a third of his staff takes public transportation, which presents issues for a business owner. For example when public transit has to close down, he says their staffing suffers and are even planning creative ways to get people to work.
“Next time we're just going to go get our staff and bring them to work and bring them home afterwards,” said Greengold.
Affordable housing advocates say all these issues could be fixed with more affordable housing options across New Orleans.
“Most of us want to live in the communities we work in, and so if you're talking about the downtown area that's virtually impossible,” said HousingNOLA Executive Director, Andreanecia Morris.
HousingNOLA rated the progress on affordable housing in New Orleans, giving it a ‘D’. That's because after Katrina, city and state leaders aimed to create more than 33 thousand affordable housing units.
There was progress made in the years after, but HousingNOLA says that effort has waned. The report points out affordable housing options were in the negative in the past 2 years.
“Why would you want to live in a city that serves its people at a ‘D’ level,” said Morris.
HousingNOLA executive director Andreanecia Morris says there's a long to-do list when it comes to improving New Orleans' affordable housing. At the top of the list is city and state leaders acting on affordable housing measures.
“This is taking too long. We're making the wrong choices, meanwhile 2 times in the last few years we've drafted and enacted new rules about where our tourists stay,” said Morris. “We can move quickly when we decide to we, haven't moved quickly on this issue.”
As chair of the Community Development Committee, city councilman Jay Banks says he has been working with state legislators to make property taxes more affordable, and encouraging developers to develop affordable housing, but knows there's much more to do.
“Short term rentals is a part of the issue, affordable housing didn't die because of short term rental but it impacted it so what part of the elephant do you bite first,” said Banks.
Morris says they’re pushing for the city council to fully implement the “Smart Housing Mix” ordinance which would require or incentivize lower-priced homes and apartments to be built in newer developments.