More on St. Bernard Parish – Affordable housing proposals don’t have to be divisive: Jarvis DeBerry

While the poorest parish in our metropolitan area has been waging a war against affordable housing, our most affluent parish has generally embraced such apartments as necessary for its economic well being.

Yes, it’s counterintuitive. One might expect that government officials in St. Bernard Parish — where the median family income is less than $44,000 a year — would be more hospitable to the poor than their counterparts in St. Tammany Parish, where the median family income is almost $71,000.

But that hasn’t been the case. Provident Realty, a Dallas developer, has been vilified by St. Bernard officials as a threat to the parish’s property values. The mixed-income apartments the developer aims to build in Chalmette, goes their argument, will be certain incubators for crime. And St. Bernard Parish is spending itself broke trying to keep them out.

In the meantime, Provident has built four large mixed-income apartment complexes in St. Tammany Parish. Didn’t know that? If not, consider the point already made: Such apartments can be built without fuss, and they can blend into the landscape without anybody paying them much attention.

Since Hurricane Katrina, St. Tammany Parish has been the local leader in providing quality housing for people whose jobs don’t pay a whole lot. Dr. Allison Plyer, chief demographer at the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, made that point in September at a conference the Jesuit Social Research Institute hosted at Loyola University.

St. Tammany Parish didn’t become that leader by accident. As Plyer explained, officials there “actively planned” for the housing they realized they needed. Why would they do such a thing? They realized, obviously, that you can’t have a thriving economy if you don’t provide housing for the people who make that economy work.

Read more at NOLA

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About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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