Report: Affordable Housing Out of Reach in Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS – From HousingLOUISIANA and HousingNOLA:

Full-time workers in New Orleans need to earn $22.73 per hour to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. That’s the Crescent City’s housing wage, or amount a worker needs to earn per hour to afford a modest rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing, according to a new study. Louisiana’s housing wage isn’t much better at $19.39, which is nearly two dollars more than it was last year. 

The data can be found in the 2023 Out of Reach Report released jointly by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, HousingLOUISIANA and HousingNOLA. 

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HousingNOLA is a 10-year partnership between community leaders and dozens of public, private and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ regional affordable housing crisis.  

The report reveals that working at the minimum wage of $7.25 in Louisiana, a wage earner must have 2.7 full-time jobs and work 107 hours per week to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. To afford a modest one-bedroom, a person must work 89 hours per week at 2.2 full-time jobs. In Orleans Parish, 52% of households are renters. 

“Like homeowners, renters are seeing the impact of the failure to address Louisiana’s insurance crisis,” says Andreanecia Morris, president of HousingLOUISIANA.  “It’s only going to get worse as landlords grapple with insurance prices while getting no help from lawmakers. The legislative session just ended and once again our lawmakers failed to do anything meaningful to assist in lowering insurance prices. Meanwhile our state’s housing wage has gone up more than $2 since last year, while the minimum wage hasn’t increased since 2009. If our legislators won’t even give a raise to some of the hardest working people in our state like teachers and hospitality workers against these sky-high costs, how can we expect anyone to find affordable housing? It’s time our lawmakers put housing first.” 

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The Housing Wage is the amount someone needs to earn per hour to afford a rental home at fair market rent without spending more than 30% of their income on housing. 

Housing wages in Louisiana and its major cities:

  • Statewide: $19.39 
  • New Orleans: $22.73 
  • Shreveport: $19.40 
  • Baton Rouge: $19.33 
  • Lafayette: $18.92 
  • Lake Charles: $18.90 
  • Houma/Thibodaux: $18.87 
  • Alexandria: $17.29 
  • Monroe: $16.94 

The National 2023 Housing Wage is $28.58 per hour for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $23.67 for a modest one-bedroom rental home. More than 25 million people across the country work in the five most common lowest-paying occupations – retail sales, food and beverage services, food preparation, home health and personal care services, and building cleaning – and their median hourly wage is at least $7.80 less than the one-bedroom Housing Wage. 

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Even before the pandemic, low-income renters were facing a housing crisis, with rents increasing much more quickly than wages and federal assistance programs remaining underfunded. With the arrival of the pandemic, widespread job and wage losses followed by skyrocketing rents exacerbated the situation, putting new pressures on renters throughout the country. Though rent inflation has moderated in most markets and is now at pre-pandemic or even lower levels, rents remain too high for low-wage workers and other low-income renters.  

At the same time, pandemic-era benefit programs – like emergency rental assistance (ERA), additional allocations from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and childcare tax benefits – have ended. In consequence, the lowest-income renters are facing high rents without the support of those safety net programs that kept them stably housed during the pandemic, with the result that eviction filings are returning to or surpassing pre-pandemic levels in some communities. 

“Housing is a human right,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Stable, affordable homes are a prerequisite for basic well-being, and no person should face the danger of losing their home. But, as the Out of Reach report shows, too many low-income renters now face worsening housing instability, as wages stagnate, housing costs rise, and pandemic-era safety net programs close down. Addressing the country’s long-term housing affordability crisis requires bridging the gap between rents and incomes through comprehensive federal legislation and adequate funding by Congress for our country’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs.” 

For additional information, and to download the report, visit: 

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