Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance Working To Create Affordable Housing

January 2, 2015

The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance is a collaborative formed by the non-profit housing builders and community development corporations who are working diligently to rebuild the city of New Orleans.

“The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance is a collaborative of non-profit, for-profit, builders and advocates of affordable housing here in the metro area,” says Andreanecia Morris. “We have been working together to create more affordable housing in New Orleans as we rebuild the city.”

Andreanecia Morris works for Providence Community Housing; they’re a member of the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance — GNOHA for short. So is Jericho Road, a non-profit developer in Central City. Also Volunteers of America, the Crescent City Land Trust, Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center,, Make it Right, Project Home, and on and on.

“Affordable housing is the business of most of us who participate in GNOHA,” says Morris. “Be that as an advocate, where we have members who work on behalf of residents and neighborhood associations, or low- to moderate-income buyers, first time buyers.  And then there are also the builders, the people who create the housing. And we have about, last time I looked, 50 members.”

At the GNOHA policy meeting, members pour over a draft of housing plan for the city of New Orleans.

“The Foundation for Louisiana has funded a housing plan that we’re working on,” explains Morris. “It’s going to be a ten-year plan to take us through second half of recovery. What does affordability, what does livability look like?”

GNOHA wants to be very deliberate about answering those questions, because affordability runs the range.

“It’s not just simply someone who’s trying to make due on minimum wage,” Morris says. “There are also affordability issues for people at higher or more modest income levels in the middle class. Rents are so high now. If you’re fortunate enough to own your own home, insurance, taxes could put you in a precarious position of being priced out of your neighborhood. We have to get in front of that.”

The ups and downs of the U.S. housing market have affected New Orleans differently than the rest of the country because we flooded.

“But it doesn’t mean that those things can’t happen here,” cautions Morris. “As we start rebuilding and the neighborhoods get stronger, you have to worry about gentrification and people getting pushed out of neighborhoods that they have lived in for generations.”

Morris says as a city we need to be thoughtful and deliberate about housing. And that’s housing for everyone.

“We want to make sure that it’s not pigeonholed. It is about affordability, but it’s more than that,” she says. “It’s about the college student getting their first apartment or someone in their first job. Where do they live? Do they have to live outside the city? Can’t they live in New Orleans proper in a decent apartment?”

By working together as a collective, GNOHA has a singular, more powerful voice in looking at policies and practices.

“What do we want to push?” asks Morris. “What do we want to nudge? What do want close our eyes and pray it away, or pray it away?”

Morris says housing is just one of many issues that make a healthy city. Wages, jobs, transportation, education — they’re important too.

“How do you get a kid to go to school every day if they don’t know where they’ll lay their head at night? How do you keep a job if you don’t have anywhere to go home to? Housing is the underpinning of all of that,” she says.

It’s all interrelated.

“So housing for me, is a good place to start.  It’s not the only place to start. But given what I do, it’s the place I’m going to start.”

Written by Eve Abrams for the Community IMPACT Series and produced by WWNO in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation. To learn more about the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, click here.