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Lawmaker Aims to Block New Orleans’ Affordable Housing Requirements

Posted on May 8, 2017

A Louisiana Senate committee approved a bill that would block New Orleans residential developers from having to include affordable housing units in apartment and condo projects.

Inclusionary Zoning in Louisiana

The piece of legislation would eliminate “inclusionary zoning” throughout the entire state. This prevents cities and parishes from creating a mandate requiring developers to offer a portion of units for lower-income residents alongside their regular market rate units.

The bill is intended to stop the effort to bring an inclusionary zoning policy into the city’s pricier neighborhoods in order to provide workers affordable places to live near their work or public transportation.

A supporter of the bill, Sen. Conrad Appel, said that the inclusionary zoning will only make developers not want to develop in New Orleans. Inclusionary zoning was introduced to the state’s law in 2006 as a way for the state’s real estate market to recover after Hurricane Katrina. This new bill would remove any mention of it from the law and instead would encourage cities to use unspecified incentives to negotiate with developers to include affordable units.

Housing advocates believe inclusionary zoning is the key to keeping up with the estimated 33,000 affordable units that will be needed in New Orleans by 2025. Low-waged workers are more in demand than ever with the city’s booming tourism industry, but these workers are being pushed further and further away from the city in order to find affordable housing. Inclusionary zoning was intended to give these workers the option to live near their work at a price they can afford.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who opposes the bill, said she believes the debate should take place at the local level, where local leaders can make decisions that best fit their community.