But quality of life comes at a premium. Even though the population is still below its pre-Katrina level, the median rent in the city rose by 25 percent between 2004 and 2012—from $688 to $861 per month on existing leases—and the percentage of renters who spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing rose from 24 to 36 percent in the same period. These figures have prevented some locals who left after Katrina from returning, particularly those who lived in public housing. After the hurricane, the Housing Authority of New Orleans negotiated agreements with developers to transform all of the city's public-housing sites—those badly damaged by the storm as well as those that weathered it unscathed—into mixed-income residential neighborhoods. The idea was to replace mismanaged, dangerous projects with modern units that did not isolate poverty. But many saw the move as a cynical land grab, ceding increasingly valuable sites to developers and squeezing out residents with low incomes. (Razing the Lafitte housing projects raised particular ire as they were considered better designed and maintained than others and sustained little hurricane damage.) The city once had 6,000 public-housing units. When the last conversion is complete, the redeveloped sites will have 4,000 low- to moderate-income homes, of which 1,800 will be public housing. Residents left out of the new housing plan were pushed into the federal Section 8 program, where the waiting list, with 13,000 names, has been closed for five years. “We do have a lot of vacant land to develop new housing,” says Gregg Fortner, new director of the housing authority. “Right now, we are assessing our opportunities. Then comes the hard part: identifying funding.”All very obvious for a very long time.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Why is the rent so damn high?
Because the game is rigged in such a way as to encourage the raising of the rent to too damn high levels.