The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act (S. 1668) got a boost last week with the unanimous endorsement of the New Orleans City Council. Similar legislation (H.R. 1227) overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year, but the Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) ran into unexpected opposition recently from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who incorrectly accused it of attempting to re-create New Orleans' troubled public housing complexes exactly as they were before Hurricane Katrina.
In fact, Landrieu's proposal requires that any public housing apartment torn down be replaced with another form of low-income housing -- either subsidized public housing, partially subsidized "affordable" units or vouchers that offset a portion of rents -- and allows local government officials and the Housing Authority of New Orleans to decide the appropriate mix. In September, Institute for Southern Studies Director Chris Kromm -- author of a number of reports documenting the region's serious housing crisis -- briefed Congress on the importance of the legislation. As the endorsement notes, the region's lack of affordable housing remains one of the most serious problems facing low-, moderate- and middle-income families, and a lack of housing affordable to workers is slowing the recovery.
Here's the full text of the council's endorsing resolution:
CITY HALL: November 1, 2007
BY: COUNCILMEMBERS FIELKOW, DARNELL, MIDURA, HEAD,
CARTER, HEDGE-MORRELL AND WILLARD-LEWIS
WHEREAS, the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007 (S. 1668) is currently being considered by the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs;
WHEREAS, the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007 (H.R. 1227), the House companion to S. 1668, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 302-125 on March 21, 2007, with the entire Louisiana House delegation supporting the bill;
WHEREAS, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged nearly 204,700 homes, 82,000 rental properties, and 70 percent of the entire rental stock in the City of New Orleans;
WHEREAS, the Road Home Program is facing a funding shortfall that could be between $3 to 4 billion;
WHEREAS, the lack of affordable housing in the area remains one of the biggest challenges for low, moderate and middle-income families;
WHEREAS, the lack of sufficient affordable workforce housing is hampering the recovery of the hospitality, healthcare, and construction industries which are vital to economy of the New Orleans area;
WHEREAS, there should be a consideration of an increase of the Area Median Income;
WHEREAS, there should be consideration for a fair and equitable distribution of affordable housing within all neighborhoods with appropriate consideration for areas with adequate infrastructure, schools, health care, and transportation;
WHEREAS, there should be an effort to reduce density and eliminate the concentration of poverty, and to foster choice in housing by subsidy recipients;
WHEREAS, immediate reforms in local management of HANO and HUD are required in addition to better enforcement of all HANO standards including enforcement of a workforce requirement;
WHEREAS, S.1668 should encourage growth of New Orleans as a healthy community;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, That the Council of the City of New Orleans is supportive of efforts towards Senate passage of S. 1668 and is committed to working closely with our Louisiana United States Senators and the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to further strengthen this legislation as it moves through the Congress.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, That in regard to any mixed-income development that those developments have safety provisions be put in place that include but are not limited to adequate police and fire protection, private security, effective on-site management with regular inspections, and periodic and continuous code enforcement review;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, That in regard to any mixed-income development that those developments provide adequate social services including but not limited to health care, day care, youth development, workforce development, job training, and access to public transportation;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, That the Housing and Human Needs Committee of the New Orleans City Council will further review S.1668 and provide comments to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in a reasonable timeframe; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, That the Clerk of Council forward a certified copy of this resolution to The Honorable C. Ray Nagin, Mayor of the City of New Orleans, the Louisiana State and Federal legislative delegation, the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, U.S. House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Housing and Community Opportunity, Committee on Financial Services.
Sue is the editorial director of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.