Housing concerns grow as demand is high and supply is low following Hurricane Ida

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 10:53 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 8:02 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Many residents are finding their homes are unsafe and uninhabitable following Hurricane Ida, and some are total losses.

As local and state officials look for more funding for housing, some believe the affordable housing crisis before the storm is only getting worse as supply is low but the demand for homes and rentals is high.

In St. Bernard Parish, homes don’t stay up for sale for long.

“As soon as something in a reasonable price range hits the market, you’re seeing it go very quickly,” said real estate agent Liz Baer. “I had somebody who called me I guess it was like Monday and yesterday signed a lease, like that’s how quickly we moved you know.”

Baer said housing options were already low before the storm and now, with the demand so high, she’s worried it’s on a track to get even worse. And according to city and parish leaders in those impacted communities, it’s already there.

“Temporary housing for the people who lost everything who were priced out of their insurance. People who don’t have a roof over their head,” said Mayor Tim Kerner of Lafitte. “I mean look, you could lose a lot of things in life but to lose a roof over your head for you and your family that worked your whole life for, that’s tough.”

Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson said his office has been fighting with FEMA and the governor’s office to receive more funding and housing options following the storm.

“Our biggest problem... is what the long-term sheltering will look like for these residents who lost everything,” said Chaisson. “We can bridge that gap for another week or so but having being told we’ll have to wait 30-60 days for some of these units to come in is really just unacceptable to us.”

John Mills with FEMA said the agency provided nearly $374 million in grants directly to Hurricane Ida survivors for home repairs, rental assistance and critical needs, in addition to paying for hotel rooms. When it comes to additional housing help, he said everything is on the table.

“We are working very closely with the state on all possible housing options in Louisiana,” said Mills. “We’re continuing to work with survivors one-on-one on their specific needs. We’re working with each household on a case-by-case basis to help them get into a safe, sanitary and secure situation as quickly as possible.”

He said FEMA will continue to do that based on the needs of those hardest-hit communities.

Senator Bill Cassidy on his visit to St. John the Baptist Parish said housing has got to be the number one priority.

“Wherever I have been whether it was Lafitte, going to Grand Isle, going to Terrebonne, Lafourche and now, here, housing is a major issue,” he said. “But now people are without homes. First responders can’t live with their families near where they work. Housing Housing Housing as well as infrastructure in general.”

Governor John Bel Edwards said he is pushing the White House and congressional leadership for more federal assistance dollars.

“We’ve already made a request to the white house and congressional leadership that in that next appropriation they take up in Washington that they add IDA as a disaster with additional funding so we can address those long term housing needs infrastructure needs so we can build resilience, we’re hoping that measure taken up at the end of this month and passed so we can kick start that housing program as soon as possible,” said Edwards.

For now, real estate agents like Baer are seeing an influx of people moving out of those bayou communities to other cities.

“You see a lot of migration. People are moving and shifting and it’ll be interesting to see long term whether those shifts are permanent or temporary you know. You really don’t know until the dust settles,” she said. “They’re kind of going everywhere right now and you know this area we’re in-- St. Bernard Parish-- this was heavily hit during Katrina. It rebuilt and is thriving right now, so now you’re going to see an influx of people here potentially.”

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