More than 4,000 renters in New Orleans reported major problems with the electricity, heating, plumbing or upkeep of their homes in 2015, according to an analysis being released Tuesday by a local housing advocacy group.
In about 9 percent of rented homes, there were signs of rats, while many had mold, increasing the risk of respiratory illness.
"Despite steep increases in rental income for landlords, families who rent in New Orleans still live with leaks, mold and rodents,” said Maxwell Ciardullo of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, the group behind the report.
The new data, which cover about 63,700 homes in Orleans Parish, come as City Hall debates whether to set up a process to register and inspect all of the city's rental properties.
A City Council committee debated an ordinance to set up the registry earlier this month, but some council members voiced reservations. The full council has yet to take a vote.
Landlords have argued the registry would be too onerous and likely would be ignored anyway by the bad landlords it is designed to identify.
In an interview, Jon Luther, with the Homebuilders Association of Greater New Orleans, said that if major problems afflict only a tenth of local rental properties, the city should target that segment of the market, rather than rolling out a proposal that applies to everyone.
“I really wish we could get to some best policy and some best information as a community,” he said.
The apartment on North Miro Street in the 7th Ward was in horrible shape.
In addition to the homes with faulty upkeep, plumbing or heating or that had rats, 3,200 rental units had a crumbling foundation, the report says. About 1,200 units had holes in the floors, while 1,000 had broken windows.
The 2,300 units that had mold represent a 30 percent increase from 2011. “It is no surprise,” given those figures, that more than a quarter of all renter households with children have an asthmatic child in the home, the report says.
“The data demonstrate that housing quality has huge impacts on residents' health,” said Dr. George Hobor of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, which helped the Fair Housing Action Center gather data on health effects.
View the report, below.