Beyond Data: Housing Affordability and Income

To understand the many dimensions to an issue, engaging the community is essential to understanding the context for data.

To bring this data to life, we asked New Orleans residents how they relate to the data in The Youth Index 2016. Here’s what they had to say on the topic of Housing Affordability and Income:

The limited number of affordable housing and gentrification is an issue, and no one is talking about it. There’s at least no public outcry except AirBnB.”

– African American Male, Community and Energy Services Director, Age 54


The percent of working parents is so high. Single mothers are working, but can’t afford to pay rent. I work with a family where the mother is working, but she’s been homeless four times because of unaffordable housing.”

– African American Female, Case Manager, Age 62


I’ve personally been coaching folks to get them ready for homeownership and the income prohibits them from even qualifying for homes that nonprofit organizations are building.”

– African American Female, Consultant, Age 41


I suspect housing affordability in New Orleans is much, much worse now in 2017 than in 2015. We are seeing an increase of families actually sleeping outside or in their cars. As the cost of purchasing a home skyrockets for the middle class here, rents are also skyrocketing. New Orleans is turning into a pale shadow of its authentic self.”

– Caucasian Female, Executive Director and Housing Advocate, Age 57


This data is absolutely true. Currently, New Orleans is going through a change in housing costs. The housing costs have increased leaving many folks paying more than half of their income on housing. Specifically, working families are struggling to pick between food and rent. It’s a dire situation that’s only getting worse.”

– African American Male, Fund Developer at a Community Development Organization, Age 30


In addition to earned income, I have to rely on financial resources as a means of providing for my son with a disability. I have to make sure he’s enrolled in every sort of financially resourceful programming available to him – which is a job in itself. I have tried it all. It has been very hard to balance his needs along with my needs for financial, academic, and social elevation–however, not impossible. Thankfully I have created my own support system, learned to have an organized chaos, and find help when I need it. The “new” New Orleans is anything but the Big Easy. I’ve watched the impact of low wages diminish the quality of family ties and contribute to the demise of some of our youth. The elders can’t live in their respective roles because they have to provide for themselves. No one has extra. People now focus only on their immediate family.  The New Orleans I grew up in was filled Ms. Hope’s, Ms. Bowkie’s, Ms. Debra’s, and Big Mama’s that watched out for me, fed me, clothed me, etc. Parents must be very resourceful in order to create desirable qualities of life for their families. Forget the “you work hard to struggle less” mentality. You have to work strategic, calculated, and varied to achieve your desired quality of life.”

– African American Female, Peer Educator and Parent, Age 30


Housing affordability in New Orleans is also becoming a big issue for middle class folks, too. It’s not just a low income issue anymore.”

– African American Male, Fund Developer at Community Development Organization, Age 30


It really is becoming more and more possible that I may not be able to buy a home in the city I grew up in. I’m not about to own a home in Metairie! I may be able to  rent, but that’s not what I want. I can’t even look in Gentilly anymore. And, let’s also talk about the remodeling of all the traditional doubles that a middle class person like myself would use for rental income to help kick start my life; but they are disappearing before my eyes. The available ones anyway.”

– African American Female, Self-employed, Age 27


Most of the problems in this city can be traced back to wage and wealth inequity or the maintenance thereof.”

– African American Male, Engineer, Age 39


The wage gap impacts female led households in many ways:

  1. The rise in costs of living will increasingly limit the possibility of discretionary income. And discretionary income is what people use to invest for wealth building purposes.
  2. It separates many from the ability to increase their net worth. I know many who have had to choose between a vehicle and a mortgage. Those salaries support one or the other. Both is not achievable without supplement.
  3. Education is only part of this equation. I have a former student who is graduating with a technical credential who will enter a career with a 32k salary. It is a far cry from her lower wage former jobs. But she will find herself in the house vs car dilemma shortly.
  4. I’d be interested in seeing this broken down by the career area. I expect that some of this gap can be attributed to male dominance in one particular field over another.  I expect that gap to still exist due to sexism that is pervasive in the South.”

– African American Female, Educator, Age 41


This means we’ll never get ahead!”

– African American Female, Program Manager, Age 37