Report: New Orleans rents still on the rise; living conditions still substandard for many

A line of homes in a New Orleans neighborhood

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Thousands of New Orleans renters are still living in substandard housing, and the average rent for a one-bedroom house or apartmentĀ inched up to $1,000 in 2015.

The numbers were released in a new report from the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, the city’s leading nonprofit forĀ fair housing enforcement, education and home ownership protection.

According to the report, the majority of New Orleans residents are renters, and 56 percent of renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities. The national average is 47 percent.

In New Orleans, a third of renters spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities, compared to 24 percent nationwide.

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“When families pay such high housing costs, repairs and moving costs may remain out of reach for many tenants who are then stuck in uninhabitable conditions,” the report says.

More than 4,500 rental units reportedly had major problems with plumbing, heating, electricity or general upkeep in 2015, and 2,300 units had mold. That’s a 30 percent increase in mold reports since 2011.

As for the children who live in these rentals, more than a quarter of them have asthma. African-American residents experience much higher asthma rates in the 70118 zip code, more than 13 times higher than white people in the same neighborhood.

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The city ordinance regulating code enforcement is based on complaints, the housing center says. It’s an ineffective method for renters who are scared to report their landlords, and when tenants do file complaints, there is little to stop them from being evicted.

“(The) system is clearly failing renter families,” the report says.