Mayoral candidate Desiree Charbonnet released an affordable housing plan Tuesday, promising to impose new restrictions on short-term rentals in New Orleans and to fund housing initiatives with revenue generated from city redevelopment projects.
Charbonnet's plan says she would consider various proposals for cutting back on the number of Airbnb and VRBO short-term rentals, including a cap in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes or a requirement that owners of rental properties have homestead exemptions for the properties.
The former move would further limit rentals in neighborhoods where they are already scarce, while the latter — which would require people to actually claim as their permanent residence the home they seek to rent to visitors — could have a much broader impact.
Affordable housing advocates say that short-term rentals reduce the number of units available to lower-income residents.
Short-term rentals “can change the character of our neighborhoods and remove affordable rental housing from the market,” Charbonnet said.
Charbonnet said she would earmark revenue from projects like redevelopment of the former World Trade Center building, which the city owns, to meet goals first outlined by the advocacy group HousingNOLA and then elaborated on by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a five-year housing strategy released last year.
Her proposed method of funding housing initiatives has the potential to generate even more resources than the $17.5 million that the city now designates for housing each year, she said.
The document is Charbonnet’s second policy statement on a major issue; she released her first, which focused on crime, last month. She is considered one of the front runners in the Oct. 14 mayoral primary.
Her crime plan called for hiring up to 100 new police officers a year, in part by pulling money from the city’s Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund. That fund, bolstered by revenue the city gets from its fees on short-term rentals, makes up about a third of the $17.5 million the city now dedicates to housing.
Her housing plan, however, would supplant that money with a percentage of the annual revenue from the Four Seasons Hotel due to open in the WTC building in 2018, plus other redevelopment projects slated to come online around that time.
The Four Seasons is expected to bring in roughly $13.2 million a year to the city, an estimate Charbonnet called “conservative” in an interview Tuesday. Under her proposal, half of that money might be dedicated to affordable housing, while the other half would go to public safety.
Her proposal that property owners be required to claim homestead exemptions on homes they rent to visitors would largely eliminate the rental of homes owned by non-residents or by residents who own and rent multiple properties. It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday just how many properties would be affected, though the impact could be significant.
City data show that her other move, to limit rentals in single-family neighborhoods to one per block, would have a minor effect. Of the city’s total 2,948 registered rentals, there are only 162 in single-family neighborhoods, including parts of Algiers, Lakeview, Lakeshore and New Orleans East.
The one-per-block limit would cut that total down to 141. Charbonnet said she might look into expanding the one-per-block rule to other neighborhoods later.
Otherwise, Charbonnet's plan would largely preserve policies set in motion by Landrieu and the City Council in recent years.
She said she would keep the “smart housing mix” plan that, if passed by the council, would require developers to reserve a portion of all new residential projects for affordable housing.
She would continue to encourage public transit-oriented development and would work toward other HousingNOLA-endorsed initiatives, such as a proposed rental registry.
Charbonnet said she consulted some of the same advocacy groups that produced the HousingNOLA plan.
“They all agreed that this was a good plan, which gave me a very high comfort level that I was on the right track,” she said.
Staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report.
New Orleans mayoral candidates offered few surprises Saturday as they vied for the endorseme…
Mayoral candidate Desiree Charbonnet released a crime plan Monday promising she would add be…
Armed with a proposal to boost affordable housing in the city and a progress report on his s…