City releases five-year strategy to increase affordable housing
and four-year progress report on NOLA FOR LIFE
NEW ORLEANS – In his annual State of the City address today on the rooftop of The ReFresh Project overlooking Mid-City, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the progress the city has made over the last six years in education, healthcare, job creation, transportation and infrastructure. He also announced a new five-year strategy to increase affordable housing in the city, hailed the four-year progress of the City’s NOLA FOR LIFE comprehensive murder reduction strategy and encouraged residents to participate in the City’s new #EquityNewOrleans initiative to drive systemic change that will ensure equity within City government at all levels.
"The state of our city is as strong as it has been in 60 years, and it is getting stronger," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "Now, we have a real chance to course-correct and fly. But we still have a long way to go and there are a whole host of issues on which we as a city must continue to seek higher common ground. Since taking office six years ago, we have shown the world what we can do and I am even more optimistic about our future. Our goal is to not just rebuild New Orleans the way she was, but how she was always meant to be. That means building a stronger, more resilient and equitable city where promise and opportunity are abundant for everyone. We cannot leave anyone behind. We must all move forward together.”
District A Councilmember Susan G. Guidry said, “The economic outlook of New Orleans has never been brighter, with hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic activity and investment bringing new jobs and rising property values. While the State may be in a fiscal crunch, New Orleans continues to be an economic dynamo. But with this good fortune comes responsibility. We, as a City, must make sure that all New Orleanians have the opportunity to be a part of our continued progress and prosperity.”
Public safety remains our top priority
Upon taking office in 2010, Mayor Landrieu made public safety a top priority. Today, the New Orleans Police Department is implementing the most comprehensive police reform in American history. Once again, the NOPD is recruiting, training and growing its ranks. Police officers are being retrained for community policing and wearing body cameras and long troubled sections of NOPD have been reformed like the sex crimes. Through NOLA FOR LIFE, the City’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy launched in 2011, New Orleans has reduced murder more than any other similar peer city. The Multi-Agency Gang Unit, led by NOPD and combining the resources of the Louisiana State Police, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, State Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole, U.S. Marshalls Service, DEA, ATF, FBI, the District Attorney and U.S. Attorney, has launched dozens of investigations leading to 118 gang or group member indictments. In 2011, 55 percent of New Orleans murders were gang or group related. That number has been cut in half today. This year, New Orleans is on track to have the lowest number of murders since 1971.
Economic future is bright
New Orleans economy is strong led by new jobs, improving schools and record number of visitors fueling the city’s cultural economy. Retail growth has led to a 5% increase in sales tax collections, doubling the state. After closing a $100 million budget gap inherited upon taking office in 2010 and fixing the firefighters pension fund, S&P has upgraded the City’s credit rating three times and is now A+, saving millions on lower interest rates.
Transformational projects are creating new jobs
Since taking office in 2010, 15,000 new jobs have been created which has helped spur on $6 billion in new construction across the city. Major economic drivers are on the way. Construction has begun on the new North Terminal at New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport which will create thousands of new jobs and provide 30 new gates, better parking, a new hotel and new ground transportation hub. Already, 10 million people come through the airport each year on 54 direct flights across 15 airlines. Last week, the City announced the first international flight to Europe with Condor Airlines. A second major jobs creator will be the redevelopment of the former World Trade Center building into a $364 million Four Seasons Hotel and Condominiums. It will create 1,600 construction jobs, 450 permanent jobs and feature aggressive DBE goals so everyone can take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity. The Port of New Orleans is also positioned to take advantage of increased trade with the widening of the Panama Canal and normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. Since 2012, $100 million has been invested in the port, including the new Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal adding space for 2,000 more huge shipping containers that will create jobs and move goods faster.
Expanding the circle of opportunity
Mayor Landrieu addressed that residents and businesses must join the ongoing efforts to expand the circle of opportunity for all New Orleanians in order for our city to progress. That means jobs for the 52 percent of African-American men in New Orleans who are not working. STRIVE, the City’s flagship job training program that is part of the Mayor Landrieu’s Economic Opportunity Strategy, recently celebrated its eighth graduation. STRIVE creates pathways to prosperity through a crash course on everything professional. Combined with programs at local Opportunity Centers, STRIVE has connected 241 mostly African-American men to jobs and 80 percent are still working after 6 months.
New Orleans future begins in the classroom
Mayor Landrieu triumphed the success of the city’s public schools led in part by $1.8 billion in FEMA funding for more than 30 new world class 21st century learning centers rebuilt since Hurricane Katrina. Today, graduation rates are up, drop-out rates are down and young African-American men are graduating at rates higher than both the state and national averages. This year, 2,200 seniors graduated, earning $80 million in scholarships for 315 different colleges and universities.
Breaking down barriers and building equity
To build off the City’s success in murder reduction, economic opportunity and improving health outcomes for children and families, Mayor Landrieu launched a new citywide initiative called #EquityNewOrleans to drive systemic change within City government to ensure equity at all levels. With generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, #EquityNewOrleans seeks to break down barriers that divide New Orleans residents from access to resources and opportunities due to economic, racial and geographic disparities.
A healthy workforce will power New Orleans growth
Mayor Landrieu also remarked that healthcare is a huge growth industry for New Orleans with the new University Medical Center and soon to be complete Veterans Administration Hospital. Together with the New Orleans East Hospital and network of neighborhood health centers, 140,000 people are served every year. These hospitals and clinics are creating thousands of jobs from x-ray techs and phlebotomists to doctors, nurses, and administrators. With the expansion of Medicaid, 35,000 New Orleanians already have access to care.
Rebuilding our infrastructure
Mayor Landrieu also noted important achievements in transportation and infrastructure. RTA will soon complete new streetcar along Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue and bring online two new ferries to serve the East and Westbank which will spur significant investment. Since 2010, the City has completed 267 street projects, paved 122 miles of streets and filled over 270,000 potholes. The City negotiated a historic $2 billion lump sum streets settlement with FEMA. However, billions more will be needed to fix all of New Orleans aging roadways and subsurface infrastructure. Mayor Landrieu has asked the Fix My Streets Financing Working Group to develop a master plan for funding all interior street repairs over the next ten years. In order to have ‘complete streets’ that can accommodate cars, buses and streetcars, the City has more than 100 miles of dedicated bikeways resulting in nearly triple bike commuters across New Orleans.
Reimagining public housing and reducing blight
In recent years, more than $1 billion has been spent on affordable public housing in New Orleans including redevelopment of public housing projects into new mixed-income communities like Columbia Parc, Faubourg Lafitte, Marrero Commons, Harmony Oaks and Bienville Basin. These communities feature affordable apartments in much safer neighborhoods feature childhood education, community centers, pools, schools parks and playgrounds. Six years ago, New Orleans was the most blighted city in America. Mayor Landrieu launched an aggressive blight reduction strategy and today New Orleans has 15,000 fewer blighted addresses. Today, citywide property values are up 54 percent and the value of some homes have doubled or tripled meaning more money in homeowners’ pockets and more generational wealth for New Orleans families.
Need for more affordable housing
As a consequence of New Orleans increasing population and job growth, rent has increased by 50 percent since 2000. Compounded by flat wages, many New Orleanians pay more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs. To ensure working people do not get priced out of New Orleans, today Mayor Landrieu announced a new five-year strategy to build more affordable housing in the City. In close collaboration with public and private stakeholders, the Housing for a Resilient New Orleans strategy will create or preserve another 4,000 affordable housing units for working people of New Orleans over the next two years. In addition, by working with the New Orleans City Council and City Planning Commission, the City will put into place new inclusionary housing policies that will require more affordable units at major new private multi-family developments. The City will also develop and completely redesign public economic incentives to further increase affordable housing production. Through these efforts, the City will incentivize an innovative, equitable and strong private housing market.
Click here for the Housing for a Resilient New Orleans strategy