New government initiative helps renters find move-in ready housing opportunities

Published 7:09 am Tuesday, April 26, 2022

In response to natural disasters and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Office of the Governor, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) implemented the Housing Heroes Initiative. This initiative is a collaborative approach that works to identify move-in ready apartment and rental housing opportunities across the state. It promotes an inclusive strategy to identify and assess readiness critical to the state’s on-going recovery.
LHC and Continuums of Care across the state have temporarily housed more than 1,200 individuals experiencing homelessness in hotels across the state, and approximately 350 continue to seek permanent housing solutions. The aim is to provide affordable housing opportunities for individuals and families that have been displaced by hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic. LHC seeks landlords and property owners in the parishes affected by natural disasters to target viable housing units. Housing Heroes will utilize outreach tools such as the media, statewide associations, chambers of commerce, and state and local governments to appeal to single and multi-family landlords with affordable rental units. The Housing Heroes initiative will allow for immediate access to properties ready for occupancy. To post or update any available vacancies, landlords and property owners can visit www.LAHousingSearch.org or dial 1-877-428-8844 (toll-free).
This year marks a new tradition as LHC and Governor John Bel Edwards presented the inaugural V. Jean Butler Housing Heroes, recognizing organizations that have made a difference in housing in Louisiana. Named after V. Jean Butler, the former President and Vice President of the original housing and finance agency that birthed the LHC, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency (LHFA). She served on the Mayor’s Task force for Housing, Vice Chair of the Louisiana Interagency Action Council for the Homeless, and on the board of the Louisiana Association of HUD Managing Agents. Ms. Butler’s work helped establish programs like LHC’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Housing Development Grant Program (HODAG), giving structure to today’s LHC housing initiatives. V. Jean Butler has been the embodiment of a Housing Hero, through her work advocating for state housing policy and design. The inaugural V. Jean Butler Housing Heroes recently honored at LHC headquarters are UNITY of Greater New Orleans, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter and Inner-City Revitalization Corporation.
The purpose of the LHC is to substantially increase the availability of affordable, accessible, and safe residential housing in Louisiana. The LHC was created in 2011 when the Louisiana Legislature merged the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency with housing programs from other state agencies to streamline how the state would address its housing needs, avoid duplication of efforts, and improve service to the general public. The LHC administers federal and state funds through programs designed to advance the development of energy efficient and affordable housing for low and moderate income families, drives housing policy for Louisiana, and oversees the state’s Disaster Housing Task Force.
Visit www.lhc.la.gov to learn more about LHC’s great work. For additional information or comments, contact the LHC Office of Public Affairs at publicaffairs@lhc.la.gov. Watch 2022 Housing Hero Honors: https://www.lhc.la.gov/hubfs/Document Libraries/Board Meeting Archives/2022/April/VIP Special Event 4-21-2022.mp4. More about the Housing Heroes Initiative (la.gov)
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Inaugural V. Jean Butler Housing Heroes:
UNITY of Greater New Orleans: Throughout the pandemic and during Hurricane Ida, UNITY worked to ensure people experiencing homelessness were protected from COVID-19 and offered permanent housing. Their team remained in the community, working 24 hours and 7 days a week providing assistance, working with housing provider organizations and directly with clients to take care of their immediate human needs. UNITY helped set the example for how to address other areas of Louisiana and the nation. Most recently, through UNITY’s assistance and partnership with Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), we were able to provide our homeless a place to recover after their vaccination and issue permanent housing assistance.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter: In a region, already short on affordable housing, Lake Charles was further traumatized by hurricanes, the pandemic, freezes and floods. Mayor Nic Hunter and his city worked diligently, organizing recovery opportunities for the community after having more than 50,000 houses impacted from dual storms and during the global pandemic. The city hosted a housing symposium bringing together all levels of federal, state, nonprofit and private organizations to address the ongoing housing need. Because of his efforts, developers participated and received $6 million in housing credits, providing four developments to help spark needed investment, jobs for the housing market, and create much needed affordable housing.
Inner-City Revitalization Corporation: Inner-City has done more for Louisiana rural areas than any one non-profit over the past two years. They stepped outside their focal area to help other rural nonprofits across the state. They have been a model for using LHC’s federal HOME funds to develop housing, generating income from the sale of those homes to produce more housing in the state. Out of the 30 developments that have come through LHC’s open-window process, over a 3rd of the production LHC has funded involves Inner-City. Putting their production in perspective, they have been a part of more small developments in the past two years than the entire 10 years before.