During a hearing of the Community Development Committee this afternoon, Councilmembers listened to the concerns of a broad array of community members about the widespread problem of poor conditions in New Orleans rental homes. Individuals and organizations including tenants and landlords testified about their frustrations with the current under-resourced and complaint driven system for code enforcement, along with the need for an affirmative inspection process for all rentals in the City.
Councilmembers Jason Williams and Latoya Cantrell have taken leadership to address long-standing problems with New Orleans rentals, most recently documented in a report issued by a group of community organizations. Though an ordinance has not yet been introduced, the Councilmembers and their staff have indicated that a citywide rental registry program would be most effective in maintaining a baseline standard of health and safety for renters, which make up over half of New Orleans’ population.
Testimony during the hearing painted a disturbing picture of the City’s rentals- Laura Tuggle of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services described a client who is visually impaired and lived in an apartment that had raw sewage running down the walls. There were also landlords present, like Roux Merlo, who voiced their support for an affirmative inspection process that will level the playing field for landlords that want to do right by their tenants.
James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, comments “Nearly every New Orleanian has a horror story when it comes to unsafe conditions in a rental home: calls to a landlord or 311 that were ignored when mold took over the bathroom, kitchen appliances that didn’t work for months, or a leaky roof that ended up ruining a treasured possession. Today’s hearing was a first step towards transforming a legacy of poor quality in many of the City’s rental homes. Now is the time for our leaders to take the next step and introduce legislation that establishes a rental registry that works for New Orleans.”
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private nonprofit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. The activities described in this release were privately funded.
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