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Future of Affordable Housing Summit "Take 5"


Take 5 Recap

Last Friday, we had the pleasure of co-hosting the first “Future of Affordable Housing Summit” alongside the Downtown Development District.


What is Take 5? Take 5 is a five-minute recap of key takeaways from ULI Louisiana’s latest events. In the spirit of member connectivity and continuous conversations, we invite you to pop in and catch-up on the topics you may have missed!


Take 5 Breakfast Keynote by Angela Brooks

Welcome by Mike Meredith, VPG Construction and Davon Barbour, DDD


  • Career Transformation and Mission: Angela Brooks' career and experience at Covenant House shaped her mission: ensuring every person has a safe place to live and thrive, emphasizing the importance of housing security for all.


  • Global Housing Crisis: The affordable housing shortage is a worldwide issue, affecting cities of all sizes. The crisis is exacerbated by disinvestment in communities of color and the need for substantial housing production, with an estimated 96,000 new homes needed daily (worldwide) for the next 75 years to meet global demand.


  • APA's Initiatives & Efforts: The APA is actively addressing the housing crisis through various initiatives, including the Housing Supply Accelerator. This collaborative effort focuses on construction, finance, and land use reform, providing communities with a roadmap to expedite housing development and implement sustainable solutions.


  • Equity and Diverse Housing Solutions: Angela emphasizes the need for housing solutions with an equity lens, ensuring access to opportunities and creating sustainable communities. This includes reducing zoning barriers, promoting diverse housing types, and learning from successful models like Vienna's subsidized housing system.


  • Innovative Approaches and Partnerships: Successful housing strategies include adaptive reuse of older buildings, eliminating unnecessary parking requirements, and fostering partnerships with organizations like AARP to remove regulatory barriers. Examples like Minneapolis' housing policies demonstrate the impact of innovative approaches in increasing housing availability and reducing homelessness.


  • Housing Supply Accelerator Playbook: Solutions, Systems, Partnerships

    • A partnership between the APA and the NLC

      • Improving local capacity, identify critical solutions, and speed reforms that enable communities and developers to work together to provide a diverse range of quality housing to meet housing needs at the local level.


Panel 1: Urban Insights

Exploring Successful Downtown Housing Models Beyond New Orleans

Mike Sherman: Moderator & Randy Rhoads: Panelist


  • Local Case Study: The City Square project, developed on a former Winn Dixie site on Iberville in 2021 includes 76 affordable units with mixed-income housing, showcasing a successful example of urban redevelopment.


  • Importance of Listening and Design: With an 85-year history, Cushing Terrell's architectural philosophy centers on listening to the community and stakeholders to ensure good design.


  • Aspen Lumberyard Case Study: The Aspen Lumberyard project underscores the importance of local leadership and political will in affordable housing development. Aspen's city-led initiatives have produced over 3,000 affordable units since the 1970s, supported by practices like lower fees and land banking.


  • Comprehensive Planning and Collaboration: Successful affordable housing projects, like the Aspen Lumberyard, require extensive collaboration and long-term commitment. The project's wide range of affordability, from 50% to 240% AMI, and the city's proactive approach in due diligence, demolition, and utility provision, demonstrate the importance of clear planning and supportive leadership.


Panel 2: Making it Pencil

Unpacking the Economics of Local Affordable Housing Initiatives in New Orleans

Kathy Laborde (President & CEO, Gulf Coast Housing Partnership)


  • Healthcare & Housing Integration: Kathy Laborde discussed the H3C initiative on OC Haley, integrating healthcare, commerce, culture, and community. The project aims to address the intertwined issues of affordable housing and health outcomes, emphasizing the need for culturally competent healthcare services.


  • Significant Investments & Impact: GCHP has invested $900M across 93 ventures in 25 communities, focusing primarily on rental housing. With 7,000 units developed, 4,200 by GCHP, they have housed nearly 13,000 people, with 56% being extremely low-income and 22% having disabilities.


  • Innovative Funding & Partnerships: The OC Haley Blvd project, a $83M venture, showcases a complex funding model involving various stakeholders, including developers, healthcare providers, social services, and managed care organizations. This project highlights the importance of diverse funding sources, such as city funds, tax credits, and foundation support.


  • Economic & Health Benefits: The project aims to demonstrate that integrating affordable housing with healthcare services can improve health outcomes and reduce costs for insurance companies.


  • Innovation & Certification: The initiative includes Louisiana's first FitWell certified building, emphasizing high standards in design and construction to promote health and well-being. Community health workers play a key role by conducting culturally competent health assessments, further integrating health and housing to improve residents' quality of life.


Panel 3: Building Bridges

Exploring Policy Pathways for Affordable Housing

Lesli Harris, Bob Rivers & Damon Burns


“We’re meant to tap the capital markets, and then lend that capital to the communities at a more affordable rate than they’d get from another institution. After Katrina, we lost our asset base. So now, we are focusing heavily on sustainability and the physical environment in New Orleans so that we can actually continue to be here and fund people here."

– Damon Burns, CEO, Finance New Orleans


The Affordable Housing Trust Fund

What is it and how will this impact the City’s affordable housing?


  • A charter amendment (being voted on this November) will address NOLA’s shortage of housing for low- and moderate-income residents.

  • A dedicated, sustainable funding source – not a new tax.

  • If passed, would require at least 2% of the City’s general fund budget to be allocated to the housing fund.

  • $20M additional funds to be allocated each year for affordable housing – even if voters reject the ballot measure.


Examining a disconnect:

“We, as a city, are talking past each other. We’re trying to put the solution in the other neighborhood, and not in ours. I believe one way to address this is through a detailed opportunity study.”

– Bob Rivers, Executive Director, City Planning Commission


“We’re seeing that most people aren’t actually against [affordable housing]; they’re against it if it’s in their backyard.”

–Lesli Harris, Councilmember, District B


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