The low level of black home ownership is the biggest problem in New Orleans. Poverty, poor health, poor educational outcomes, and crime continue to plague the city. Each is directly related to low level black home ownership. Read this article to learn more. To make our city better, the city must create more Black homeowners.
Homeownership creates good citizens. And all people care about their property. Homeowners invest in maintaining and improving their property. Homeowners work and buy things. And homeowners pay property and sales taxes. These taxes provide government resources. And homeowners not only rarely commit violent crime. Also they form communities that prevent criminal activity. Homeownership is creates healthy and vibrant communities.
Can Black People Even Be Trusted with Mortgages?
But for over a century, questions actually swirled about whether or not black people are capable of being homeowners. Can black people hold jobs for the terms of the mortgage? Will they pay their house notes on time? Or will they keep the property in good condition? Can blacks live in communities without crime going out of control?
So in New Orleans, a test neighborhood was developed to answer just those questions. Pontchartrain Park was developed in 1955. Those questions swirled as new homes for African Americans built around a golf course became reality. And until Hurricane Katrina decimated the community, the Park served as a shining example of how home ownership works. The neighborhood was clean, crime free, lively, and healthy. In fact, the neighborhood birthed a who’s who list of our city’s best and brightest. Mayors, judges, musicians, athletes, famous actors, businesspeople, teachers, doctors, nurses – the list goes on and on and on. And for decades, crime in the neighborhood was the lowest in the city. The neighborhood was an oasis in the city.
This is concrete proof that homeownership transforms black neighborhoods in New Orleans. Then how can we replicate this model across the city?
Nearly 65% of African Americans rent in New Orleans. This contributes significantly to our crime problem. We need a dual track of investments into our city to correct this.
People Track – Yes! You Can Own Your Own Home Program
- Understanding the Homebuying process
- Down payment assistance
- Understanding credit
- Know the size of the home
- Know the neighborhood
- Avoid being house broke
Policy Track – Yes! We Do Need Black Homeowners Program
- Funding locally owned banks with tax breaks
- Securing national grants
- Changing laws to allow blighted property to be programed for Black homeowners
- Increase soft second level to $100,000
- Get state level bond program specifically for NOLA homeowners
- Incentivize sellers with bonuses for selling to black buyers in the market
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Crime is consistent in New Orleans. But this recent spike is an opportunity for us to try new approaches. However we get there, we need to increase the number of African American homeowners significantly and quickly.