The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently published its annual Out of Reach report, that examines the price of a modest two-bedroom apartment in relation to the average wage a resident must make to afford the apartment. This is known as the “Housing Wage.” In Louisiana, the Housing Wage is $17.48 per hour while the minimum wage in Louisiana is still only $7.25 per hour. To put that in perspective, a person earning minimum wage would have to work roughly 80 hours a week just to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. Should that person reside in New Orleans where the housing wage is $20.73 per hour, that resident would have to work 96 hours to afford a one-bedroom apartment.
In certain areas of New Orleans, the Housing Wage is drastically higher than $20.73 per hour. To live in the Central Business District (70112) or in the Lower Garden District (70130), the Housing Wage hovers around $30 per hour. The average renter only makes $14.64 per hour and with COVID-19 employment freezes in place, there aren’t many jobs available that pay $20.73 per hour, let alone $30 per hour. In a city, where low-income workers often spend half their wages on housing and transportation, far too many households are at risk for eviction. A trend, that is only worsening during this pandemic.
On June 15th, the Governor reopened eviction courts even while unemployment hovers at 13.3% and 40% of renters report they have little to no confidence they’ll make their next rent payment. At the federal and state levels, lawmakers have only made minimal efforts to combat the affordable housing crisis that has only grown worse since the early stages of the virus.
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition, along with LaFHAC and other advocates, are urging Governor John Bel Edwards and the state legislature to support our residents and pursue all possible options to increase funding for rental assistance. The state’s own rental assistance program opened on July 16th and was suspended three days later on the 19th after it was overwhelmed with 40,000 applications. LaFHAC and 53 other social service agencies and advocates responded by sending a letter to the Governor and legislators calling on them to do more and protect 130,000 families from eviction this fall. Additionally, Louisiana’s Congressional delegation must step-up and pass the HEROES Act to increase rental support and avert an eviction apocalypse.
The full Out-of-Reach report can be found here : http://www.nlihc.org/oor.