New Orleans Rents Outstrip Income

New Orleans Rents Outstrip Income NEW ORLEANS, LA - Other cities in the survey were Baltimore, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, New York City, Phoenix, San Antonio and Memphis, Tenn. An analysis of housing costs in eight major cities show post-Katrina incomes in the New Orleans area have not kept pace with soaring rents.

New Orleans renters spent more of their income toward rental housing and utilities than renters in any other city studied in 2008 by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to figures released Tuesday by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.

In what housing researchers across the country commonly consider a "severe cost burden, " 41 percent of New Orleans renters spent at least half their pre-tax income for housing.

Renters are not that much better off in St. Tammany and Jefferson Parish, where 27 percent of households paid half their salaries in rent, the Data Center said.

The high proportion of residents faced with skyrocketing housing costs "is one indicator of demand" for affordable housing, the Data Center said.

Last month, over the opposition of many affordable-housing advocates in New Orleans, the State Bond Commission decided to halt bonds to any more subsidized construction in the city until a comprehensive market study can be completed.

Click to open graphic in new window.The Data Center also found that landlords have shouldered higher post-Katrina costs and that, in order to properly maintain their buildings, have raised rents.

Median rental costs for 2008 were highest in St. Tammany, at $982 per month, followed by $908 in Orleans and $854 in Jefferson, the survey of the metro area shows.

But cost burdens were higher in Orleans because of significantly lower incomes.

Homeowners, too, saw costs rise across the metro area, because of post-Katrina increases in taxes, insurance and utilities, the findings show. But when compared with other cities, Jefferson and St. Tammany still had fewer "cost-burdened" homeowners, who pay more than one-third of their incomes on housing costs.

In St. Tammany, 27 percent paid more than one-third of their pay, while in Jefferson, 26 percent did - still lower than the national average of 31 percent.

Among lower-income residents in Orleans, 36 percent of homeowners spent more than one-third of their income on housing. That "merits concern, " said Data Center researchers, warning that foreclosures are likely when financial burdens rise. Orleans homeowners making less than $20,000 were particularly stretched, with 81 percent spending more than one-third of their income on housing, the figures show.

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