La. state senator to back legislation for permanent funding for affordable housing

La. State Sen. to back legislation for permanent funding for affordable housing

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Senator Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge wants a permanent source of funding for affordable housing across the state. She says she'll back legislation this session to make that happen.

Back in 2007, the state senator supported a measure that gave the LA Housing Trust Fund a one time allocation of $25 million. Much of that was used to build nearly 350 homes for low income citizens.

"Now that those funds have been spent, there are no other dollars to do the work," said Marla Newman, Executive Dir. of the LA Housing Alliance.

Some 60 people from across the state attended a housing rally Wednesday afternoon at the University of Phoenix.

"In the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet, it is simply inexcusable that any of our residents do not have safe, decent housing," said Neal Morris, a real estate developer in New Orleans.

Morris works to turn blighted property into affordable housing. That's something Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker wants to see done with the old Entergy site on Government St.

"We believe that that property can be effectively redeveloped with a mixed-income community," said Wicker.

"The bucket is there. It already exists. We just need to put more money into the bucket," said Denise Galatas with the LA Housing Trust Fund Initiative.

But supporters say it's unclear where long-term money for the housing trust fund would come from.

"We know that constitutionally there are some areas that we cannot touch such as taxes, fees and things of that nature," said Newman.

New statistics show over 100,000 homes are for sale and available, but are simply unaffordable for the state's lowest earning households. To make those homes affordable, workers would have to earn at least over $15 an hour. That's more than double the minimum wage.

"This is a noble effort and under ordinary circumstances there would be a hue and cry for it, but right now we have so little money available in our state it appears that things like this will have a tough time making the course in the legislative session," said 9News political analyst Jim Engster.

Engster says money for the LA Housing Trust Fund would come from taxpayer dollars.

Session begins Monday the 13th.

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