Evictions in New Orleans are nearly twice the national average

Evictions in New Orleans are nearly twice the national average

Louisiana law makes it shockingly easy for landlords to kick people out of their homes. Tenants have no protections if they refuse to pay rent due to substandard living conditions. Landlords can evict tenants for failure to pay rent the day after the rent is due, and renters on month-to-month leases can be evicted on just 10 days’ notice even if they’ve broken no clause in the lease. Now, a new study by the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative and Loyola Law Professor Davida Finger offers the first comprehensive look at how skyrocketing rents, paired with marginally increasing wages and state law tilted toward landlords have affected eviction rates in the Crescent City: One in 19 renter families faced a court-ordered eviction in 2017, including 1 in 4 renters in highly-segregated, predominantly Black census tracts. Nola.com/The Times-Picayune’s Jennifer Larino reports:

The report found evictions were highest in black neighborhoods where federal housing policy has historically discouraged investment. From 2015 to 2017, nearly one in four renters faced an eviction order in parts of the city where more than 90 percent of the population was black, according to the report. That compared with one in 24 renters in majority white neighborhoods. More than half of all evictions during that period occurred in these highly-segregated, predominantly black neighborhood blocks. … [One of the study’s authors, Loyola Law Professor Davida] Finger acknowledged the data doesn’t explain why people are being evicted. It would be easy to assume renters aren’t paying their rent, and deserve to be kicked out, she said. But even working families are struggling, she said. “We’re really trying to undo that kind of thinking,” Finger said. “The reality is that even someone working full-time is not able to afford rent in today’s market.” … The median rent in Little Woods was $877 in 2016, well above the affordability threshold for a renter household making $24,000 a year (the median in New Orleans), according to the report.

Sen. Ed Price has prefiled Senate Bill 28 for the upcoming legislative session, which would protect renters by requiring a grace period for late-payment of rent and a longer notification requirement for “no-cause” evictions.


New Orleans isn’t keeping track of homeless deaths
People without housing are vulnerable to violent crime and other threats to their health and welfare — homelessness itself represents a profound danger to the people who experience it. But the city of New Orleans, where more than 1,000 homeless people reside, collects no comprehensive data on homeless deaths. Nola.com/The Times-Picayune’s Richard Webster reports that when first responders Mike Miller and Robyn Burchfield worked on a volunteer basis to document every homeless death in the city, they were met with indifference and inaction from the city’s leaders:

It was only June and already 40 homeless men and women had died on the streets of New Orleans. Mike Miller couldn’t believe what he was seeing. At that rate, the city would hit at least 80 deaths by the end of 2018 — a 33 percent jump from 2017. Miller, then NOPD’s coordinator of medical and social services, broke down the math to show how staggering those numbers were, even for a population already suffering from some of the worst health outcomes. About 1,188 homeless people are on the streets of the city and Jefferson Parish on any given night, according to the 2018 point-in-time count by Unity of Greater New Orleans. Reaching 80 deaths would mean that 1 out of every 15 homeless people died that year. “That would make homelessness one of the greatest threats to your life, more than anything else,” he said. “It would make it the most deadly social condition in the city of New Orleans.” … [Documenting every homeless person’s death in the city] was a grueling project, Miller said, but they thought if they tracked each death, answers might emerge as to why people were dying at such alarming rates, along with possible solutions. He just needed to wait and see how the numbers played out through the end of 2018 and then he and Burchfield could announce their findings. But Miller never got the chance.


A Hep C cure for Louisiana
Hepatitis C is deadly but curable. But while a cure for the disease is available, the high cost of that treatment has long put it out of reach for most sufferers. Now, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is moving forward with a new “Netflix-style” payment model that will give the state access to an unlimited supply of the drug that cures Hep C for the next five years, the duration of the state’s first contract with one of the drug’s providers. As The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports, the health agency plans to partner with the Department of Corrections to target populations facing significant need: Medicaid-enrolled and incarcerated people.

Nearly 35,000 people in Louisiana’s Medicaid program have the Hep C virus, which is spread through blood contamination and can lead to liver disease and cirrhosis. Because of the high cost of medication, which can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, just 384 Medicaid patients were treated for it last year. Another 4,000 prisoners have Hep C, and a similar fraction received medication in the past year. The actual number of Louisiana residents living with the curable illness is likely thousands more – at least one LDH estimate put it at more than 70,000 residents. LDH’s goal is to treat more than 10,000 Medicaid-enrolled and incarcerated patients by 2021 and ultimately eliminate the disease through the use of the subscription model.


New SNAP rule would pressure food banks
A change to the rules for SNAP proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration would harm hundreds of thousands of people in the United States by imposing a harsh time-limit on food assistance for childless adults unable to document at least 80 hours of work per month. An estimated 56,000 people in Louisiana are expected to lose or face disruptions in their food assistance as a result of this change. As Talk Poverty’s Jessica Allred points out, the recent government shutdown showed that when low-income people lose food assistance, the charitable emergency food system isn’t able to make up the gap:

For households that qualify for SNAP, February, the shortest month of the year, was a long one. During government shutdown, 40 million Americans who participate in the program experienced as many as 60 days between the issuance of their February and March SNAP benefits. The shortages in household budgets meant that food banks across the country were inundated. “355 households on February 19,” says Kelli Hess, operations director for the Missoula Food Bank & Community Center in Missoula, Montana. Hess notes that historically, February is a slower month for the pantry — families are receiving tax returns, and the short month means SNAP benefits don’t have to stretch as far. Prior to February 19, the local food pantry’s busiest day had served 240 families. “It was absolutely fallout from the shutdown. People can’t survive without paychecks. And they can’t survive without SNAP. Which is why this proposed rule change is so scary.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is required to take public comments into account in considering this rule change. You can comment on the rule at frac.org/timelimitcomments.


Number of the Day
$5.1 Billion – Annual economic impact of Louisiana State University (Source: LSU)