Andreanecia Morris

Andreanecia Morris

As New Orleanians prepare to go to the polls on Nov. 18, we are entering into one of the most crucial run-off election seasons to date. Where we were once embarking on historic progress, we’ve stalled. Where we were finally seeing momentum with production goals and policy priorities, we’ve stagnated. Where we had been assured by politicians that they heard the needs of their constituents and were committed to finally prioritizing affordable housing, we were misled.

In 2017, we have seen the realization of the dire predictions that drove us to develop HousingNOLA’s 10-Year Strategy and Implementation Plan. The recovery funds from Katrina are nearly exhausted, and we’ve only managed approximately 500 new housing opportunities, which remains a far outcry from the 1,500 committed, and even further from the 3,330 needed.

Affordable housing is not a political platform or party issue. It is and should be held by all, as a basic human right. As a result of political pandering and general disregard for our people, the affordable housing crisis in New Orleans continues to perpetuate. With the needs of so many being blatantly disregarded to indulge the needs of a few, we have pushed thousands of hard-working, long-term New Orleanians out of this once great city they called home.

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Affordable housing needs differ from neighborhood to neighborhood, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. To address the wrongs that have been done, and finally begin to implement HousingNOLA’s 10-Year Strategy and Implementation Plan, we must be proactive on this issue, not just for some, but for all New Orleanians.

This great responsibility will fall primarily to our next mayor and City Council members. We can debate the issues of this election and their importance day in and day out, but the reality is, affordable housing is the issue that perpetuates all others. If we continue to fail to create stable and affordable homes in neighborhoods where people feel safe, there will always be crime, there will always be sickness and there will always be uncertainty.

We’ve secured the support and commitment of thousands of registered voters around our "Put Housing First" platform. The platform includes a candidate questionnaire and policy proposals, such as the Healthy Homes Ordinance, adding more dollars to a Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund, addressing tax relief for low-income homeowners facing increased property assessments, and assisting property owners wishing to create affordable housing units. The platform also calls on candidates to support public agency efforts to rebuild mixed-income housing, help find solutions to keep utility costs affordable and help increase housing stock and availability for renters and homeowners with special needs.

Those voters now know, and fully understand, the necessity of putting housing first in New Orleans, and they will not settle for less. They will no longer be placated by empty promises of the past. They will no longer support leaders who criticize or politicize affordable housing. To our next mayor and City Council, I urge you, on behalf of all those that you’ve sworn to fight for and protect, put housing first now before it’s too late.

Andreanecia Morris is executive director of HousingNOLA, a coalition of civic groups promoting affordable housing in New Orleans.