NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)– Safe and affordable housing has been an on-going battle in New Orleans, especially after Hurricane Katrina. Two council members are proposing an approach that’s controversial in many other cities; and one that’s getting strong opposition from landlords. WGNO reporter Deepak Saini takes you to a public hearing where emotions ran high over the city’s housing standards.
New Orleans can be a renter’s nightmare. Rent has skyrocketed, blight is still a major issue, and the condition of many homes and apartments are a nightmare.
“The tenants room was roughly the size of a small prison cell and and very very shabby conditions,” says Desiree Evans of Women With A Vision.
“Because the house had so many leaks cause of the moisture and the termites, it was easy for rodents to chew in,” says evicted tenant Jane Stubbs.
Tenants and fair housing advocates spoke before the New Orleans City Council’s Community Development Committee. Council members Latoya Cantrell and Jason Williams are introducing a measure in hopes of improving the conditions of rental properties.
“We just haven’t done housing well for decades,” says councilwoman Cantrell.
They propose a Rental Registry. It would require all property owners in New Orleans to register their rentals with the city and have them regularly inspected.
“Do you think a slum landlord is going to register his blighted properties? I find that very unlikely,” says landlord Pat O’Brien.
“It seems like a huge waste of resources and time and finance to approach the ones that are doing a good job, the ones you don’t have the complaints on, and at the same time, you have an office full of complaints, lets go after the complaints,” says landlord Bob Chopin
Many landlords and property owners spoke out against the proposal, some saying it violates their constitutional rights.
“We don’t need to be burdened with this. This proposal y’all are making, it’s very upsetting to me and it’s un-American,” says landlord Joan Cooper.
The measure is in the beginning stages and council members plan on meeting with landlords and tenants before drafting an actual ordinance.