Covering Louisiana

Aug 13, 2014 4:15 PM by KATC

Report says 45 percent of Louisianans are 'rent-stressed'

Almost 45 percent of renters in Louisiana are considered "rent stressed," meaning they pay more than 35 percent of their incomes in rent, according to the 2014 Housing Needs Assessment commissioned by the Louisiana Housing Corporation, which was released today.

In fact, the number of Louisiana renters paying more than 35 percent of their incomes on housing costs has increased by almost 15 percentage points since 2000, making rental affordability the top issue identified in the Housing Needs Assessment, which was produced by Dr. Roy Heidelberg and Dr. Jim Richardson of the Public Administration Institute at Louisiana State University. When looking at overall housing expenses, including utilities, more than half of all Louisiana renters, 53.1 percent, spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. This is around 270,000 households in the state.

Researchers from LSU presented a white paper with some implications gleaned from the Housing Needs Assessment, including information about rental affordability and economic development to the LHC's board today. The white paper shows that Louisiana's percentage of rent-stressed families is higher than the national average, which is 43.1 percent.

Rental affordability varies by region across the state. For example, in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, almost 55 percent of renters pay more than 35 percent of their incomes on housing expenses. In Cameron parish, only 4.9 percent do. However, even within a region, rental affordability can vary dramatically - just north of Cameron in Calcasieu parish, 44 percent of renters are rent stressed.

LHC Executive Director Fred Tombar said, "The data show that rental affordability is one of the biggest housing challenges we have in the state. This speaks to the core mission of the Corporation, which is assuring that all Louisiana residents have access to safe, sustainable, affordable housing. Now that we have this Housing Needs Assessment in place, we will use the data to continue research housing issues and also to guide the development of our future spending plans to better align our investments with the state's housing needs."

Dr. Heidelberg, the principal investigator, noted that "rental affordability became a more serious issue in the state in the last decade and could become even more important in areas of industrial expansion where local residents could be crowded out by increasing rents."

Other Noteworthy Points

When comparing Louisiana, which is a less affluent state, to the rest of the nation, several key points stand out:

Louisiana homeowners are less likely to have a mortgage and less likely to be cost stressed than homeowners across the United States.

In Louisiana, more than 45 percent of owner-occupied housing units are mortgage free, compared to only 35 percent nationwide;

Fewer Louisiana residents who do have mortgages are cost stressed when compared to the rest of the country. Nationally, 26 percent of mortgage holders spend more than 35 percent of their gross monthly income on mortgage, utility and insurance payments, compared to only 22 percent in Louisiana;

When looking at utilities, Louisiana is mostly in line with national trends when it comes to owner occupied homes lacking some services.

Nationally and in Louisiana, 4 out of 1,000 households lack complete plumbing and 26 out of 1,000 lack telephone service.

Louisiana performs slightly better than the rest of the nation when it comes to households with complete kitchens. Eight out of 1,000 households in the United States lack complete kitchens, compared to only 6 out of 1,000 in Louisiana.

Louisiana has proportionally more mobile homes than other areas of the country, but is in line with trends in other Southern states.

In Louisiana, 13.3 percent of housing units are mobile homes, which is double the national rate of 6.6 percent;

In general, parishes with a higher percent of mobile homes had a lower rate of rental stress, according to LSU's analysis.

About the Housing Needs Assessment

The Housing Needs Assessment documents and examines dozens of geographic and socioeconomic factors to assist the Louisiana Housing Corporation in making long term housing policy decisions. This information is broken down by Census tracts within regional labor markets. The labor markets are defined by the Louisiana Workforce Commission based upon employment networks. Census tracts offer a more granular perspective on the data than examining at the Parish level.

The Housing Needs Assessment alone does not draw conclusions or give answers. The HNA is the starting point in establishing appropriate housing policy. Additional research and analysis by the LHC will look at policy points, housing concerns and other issues which will lead to housing policy implementation to be considered by the LHC Board.



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