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OneRouge Community Check-In - Week 112

Week #112

The focus of the conversation will be a continuation on our 9 Drivers of Poverty series on‘Lack of Home Ownership and Escalating Rental Costs' with a roundtable discussion curated by Alfredo Cruz (listen to his PlusOne podcast episode below).

Special thanks to everyone that came out to the first in-person OneRouge Coalitions gathering last Friday at the River Center Library. Attaching pics below and hope everyone can join us for the ‘X’ celebration on 8.05.

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!

Quick Links: Notes, Zoom Chat, Community Announcements


Speaker Notes

Alfredo Cruz

When we start passing policies to criminalize the homeless so we don’t have to look at them, then we act as a community of people who don’t want to see the problem, but ignore it. To really tackle this issue, we have to consider what resources we have locally.

In some neighborhoods life expectancy is as different as 20 years. That’s huge. This is like third world country statistics. If you live in certain zip codes you could live 20 years less and it’s all tied to the built environment. The other finding is the racial segregation that continues because some neighborhoods are still 100% African American and others are 100% white. The access to capitol. The lending practices are 60% less in some neighborhoods. There’s a difference of about 30-40% on the success of your loan and the access to capital. We wonder why the differences look the way they look and it’s because folks need capital to make repairs. We are seeing a decline in homeownership in these neighborhoods because we invest more in rental development than in homeownership. We have a lot of tax sales on our property. These homes that are being bought are being bought by outside investors and they are making a lot of money on making these rental properties. We don’t have a lot of rental protection in this state.

Marlee Pittman

I was born and raised in Baton Rouge. I worked at Mid City redevelopment for five years. Coming into the city I was supposed to be at graduate school this fall but the Mayor asked if I could bring that neighborhood focus to the city. I try to understand the way these systems work at the city level. We are working with landlords and residents. That’s the base. That’s where we start. With that understanding, we’re now turning to data. Alfredo led the process to create the housing study. It’s 300 pages, but there is an executive summary. One fact is that in certain parts of our city, we have several income blocks where the average income is over $100,000, but then also have several blocks where the average is $25,000. There are 10 recommendations at the end of the summary. Where we are at right now is creating thriving neighborhoods of opportunity that are safe and thriving for all.

Housing Market Segmentation Study:

Tasha Smith Saunders

We are this newly reconstructed office of community development. Our mission is to implement the mayor’s vision of the city parish. A major component of that is affordable housing. The mayor has for many years had a focus on providing quality, healthy, affordable housing for residents. Some people think this is low-income, but this is for everyone. 30% of a household’s annual income is what people should be paying. There’s a focus in this office of homeownership. We need new units and units that are healthy. We are about to kick off our lead rehabilitation programs. We’re going to be working with landlords to rehab existing units. We also manage the city’s disaster recovery fund that we are going to be using towards housing. We are going to start public meetings on those very soon. How can you get involved? We have a comment card on our website. In the plan you will find the needs assessment. Housing repair, which is preservation and rehabilitation of our already existing affordable housing. OUr annual action plans will be focusing on driving housing repair and affordable housing repair. We are going to be focused on strong viable neighborhoods in the corridor. We are going to be asking developers to work in particular corridors. We have upcoming action planning meetings.

Office of Community Development :

Manny Patole

I am with Co-City BAton Rouge which is a collaboration with Build Baton Rouge, and we’re working to implement the Imagine Plank Road plan. That was when we first put out the idea of affordable housing that is something different than the traditional model. Louisiana as a state doesn’t allow for a landbank as its own entity. Louisiana has peculiar laws. One of the charges with Build BAton Rouge is to put abandoned or vacant property back into use. Build Baton Rouge only has 130 to 140 properties in its landbank, but there are over 4,000 in Baton Rouge. There is a process how it goes through the city and ends up with BBB. December 2021, we officially started the Plank Road Community Landbank and Trust, it’s the first hybridized landbank and trust. It is a unique thing. We have 501(c)3 status. The idea is the interim board here will set up the policies. We’re not focusing purely on residential. Not everyone is ready to own homes. There’s a reason why there are so many homes that are abandoned. The idea is to look at it from the residential and commercial perspective. We’re looking at areas for stormwater mitigation and eco friendly spaces. Louisiana is a heavily property rights state, and people don’t like to be told what to do. As we start going forward regarding how people can get involved, it’s going to be community driven and operated. We are hiring for two positions for management of this entity and we’re looking for an advisory board.


Is the landbank and trust tackling issues of title?

Manny Patole - The hardest part is the clear title. In Baton Rouge you have a lot of heirs, no one ever actually got a title, there’s no records of it, it’s hard to find everyone. The due diligence of how many years it takes to clear that. If individuals are interested in a property that gets cleared, Build Baton Rouge can assist with that. There is a big legal cost. It comes out to about $7,500 per property and that’s only for the title, not just the maintenance of the property. These things are still privately owned, even if no one is keeping up with them.

What does the word affordable mean? Who gets to determine what that means?

Manny Patole - Affordable is subjective. The 30% is pre-tax, not post tax. It’s about the area you’re living in as well. 30% in one area is not the same as 30% in another. That’s only for rent, not all the other costs like utilities and transportation. It’s pseudoscience.

See this GAP report by National Low INcome Housing Coalition- about the lack of affordable housing for those most

Rev Anderson - The issue of zoning and renters. We have an extremely lopsided renters market because of our two universities. We build a lot of rental properties designed for a certain population. The second goes into the tie of resources. Often our rental properties are more high maintenance than they need to be. When we get into these zoing conversations that lean into homeownership, I think 2016 really talked about the elephant in the room - the risk is with all of us.

Alfredo Cruz - We are a receiving community for those communities that are losing their houses to rising sea levels.

Marlee Pittman - Our state is at risk of losing more housing due to climate change than other states. A big component is some of the permitting, zoning and policy recommendations that came out of the storm water planning. We need to set those up for success.

Is there any conversation about mixed or intergenerational housing?

Tasha Smith Saunders - There are two current projects and it is a rental development at the end it will have units of affordable housing. Some of those are from families with 65 or older, and then the rest are reserved for any household, so that will create that mix. It has to remain that way for 20 years. The city can impose additional restrictions, but that is a pretty heavy lift already.

Renaldi Jacobs Sr.- When you're trying to clear condemned properties, it has to go through the metro council, that could be done by staff. That’s something we could look at making some changes. In other cities if there is a set aside system for blighted properties. There is a program at Southern University to become a community developer. In Scotlandville we have two major projects going on. Southern just completed a master plan for the Scotlandville area master plan. It’s being adopted by the city parish. If we can help clear some of these condemned properties.

Zoom Chat

08:30:16 From Jen T. (she/her) to Everyone:

Morning y'all! Does anyone know of resources for kids that have a parent in prison?

08:32:23 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

Good Morning!

08:33:16 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

Jen, we’ve had this conversation with Rev. Anderson. "Rev. Anderson" <>

08:33:44 From One Rouge to Everyone:

When we pass policies that look past the problem on our streets and put folks in jail so we don't have to look at them, then we act as a community that wants to ignore the problem

08:34:04 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

Metro Council just tried to pass an ordinance to charge housing insecure folks $200 for “camping”. IGNORANT.

08:34:07 From One Rouge to Everyone:

What are the resources we have??? Can’t wait to see!

08:34:26 From One Rouge to Everyone:

@morgan, i refuse to believe that!

08:34:51 From One Rouge to Everyone:

where would unhoused people get $200 to pay for “camping”?!?!?!

08:35:07 From One Rouge to Everyone:

manny ALWAYS has TOOLS!!!!!

08:35:28 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:

Good morning One Rouge family!

08:36:00 From Samantha Morgan to Everyone:

Please listen to Alfredo's episode of Walls Plus One.

08:36:07 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

Morning Rev. Anderson...always good to have an Alexis in the space!

08:36:27 From One Rouge to Everyone:

1. in some neighborhoods, life expectancy is as varied as 20 years

08:36:28 From Manny Patole to Everyone:


08:36:44 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:

Yes, yes it is and One Rouge has plenty of Alexis(s)!

08:37:06 From One Rouge to Everyone:

2. racial segregation continues

08:37:16 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:

Yes and that is growing

08:37:43 From One Rouge to Everyone:

3. access to capital in predominantly black neighborhoods is 60% less than others.

08:38:11 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:

And what they will lend for is also the challenge. A liquor store over a retail outlet, etc.

08:38:38 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

@Rev Anderson, I may touch on your point during my portion :-)

08:39:35 From One Rouge to Everyone:

"we have a lot of tax sales" What is driving those tax sales? How does a property become part of a tax sale???

08:40:53 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

Investment firms have been buying up what could have been affordable single family housing like hotcakes. Further exacerbating the housing shortage for the sake of speculative income. Those "We buy houses" signs are scarily ever present.

08:42:47 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone:

EXACTLY! Some communities have passed ordinances that give first right refusal to local community development organizations or the local housing authority to prevent this buyout from outside investors.

08:42:57 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone:

Here's the link to the Housing Market Segmentation Study:

08:43:30 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

08:43:52 From One Rouge to Everyone:

But how does this happen? Are people selling because they can't afford the repairs? or are they selling because they can't afford the taxes???

08:44:10 From Alexis Jones - Habitat for Humanity to Everyone:

And those blocks back up against each other lol

08:45:01 From One Rouge to Everyone:

what exactly does “adjudication" mean?

08:45:21 From Rodneyna Hart to Everyone:

a formal judgment on a disputed matter.

"an adjudication had found a degree of unwarranted infringement of privacy"

08:46:06 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

An adjudicated property is a property which the owner has failed to pay property taxes and hasn't been bid on at a tax title sale. The property becomes adjudicated to local government; however, it is still in fact owned by the property owner.

08:47:14 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

State law allows local governments to facilitate the conveyance of these properties to a new owner. This transaction results in a non-warranty title and local Government holds no obligation to guarantee the clarity of the title.

08:47:16 From One Rouge to Everyone:

then how does the city sell soemthign that is still owned by a person???

08:47:38 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

That is also a larger issue specifically in Louisiana and the process to clear title

08:48:08 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

Do not confuse adjudicated property with eminent domain.

08:49:06 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

Public housing is affordable to residents because rents are subsidized. However, there are differences between public housing vs. affordable housing. Lower income individuals do not always live in public housing developments or in developments that accept Section 8 Vouchers to subsidize rent.

08:49:29 From One Rouge to Everyone:

@manny, trying not to. but the city sells the adjudicated property, right? and if it is still owned by someone, that's confusing. i thought adjudicated property was abandoned and no one was claiming it

08:49:34 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

NOAH refers to residential rental properties that are affordable, but are unsubsidized by any federal program. Their rents are relatively low compared to the regional housing market.

08:49:35 From Tekoah Boatner to Everyone:

How does this intersect with heir property with no clear documentation of ownership?

08:49:40 From One Rouge to Everyone:

i want affordable housing!!!

08:49:40 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

NOAH stands for Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing.

08:49:49 From Marlee Pittman to Everyone:

Hi Rev Anderson, often property taxes aren't paid because there are multiple heirs or absentee heirs that may have left our community and aren't invested in keeping up and paying the taxes for the property. While there are a multitude of reasons a property ends up in "adjudication" or basically, abandoned with unpaid taxes, the hardest one to solve and the ones that sit in limbo is because there isn't a resident with clear ownership here to advocate for themselves

08:50:00 From jennifer carwile to Everyone:

We need to define what we mean by “affordable” housing

08:50:17 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone:

We all do! Who wants to live in UN-affordable housing? I don't!

08:50:22 From Manny Patole to Everyone:

Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) constitutes most of the affordable units in America. Although there’s no strict definition, NOAH generally is understood to mean rental housing at least two decades old, short on amenities and affordable without a subsidy.

08:50:34 From One Rouge to Everyone:

i thought affordable housing meant 30% of income. but i see tht isn't true.

08:50:45 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:

The title issues related to adjudicated properties is also a result of failure to promote and create financial literacy education that coverages estate planning for low and no wealth communities.

08:51:03 From Samantha Morgan to Everyone:

I live in a disinvested neighborhood to get affordable housing. I'm lucky because I'm at least close to areas that still have investment.

08:51:04 From Marlee Pittman to Everyone:

Hi Jennifer, technically "affordable" is set by the federal government, but we can definitely dig into how we're best serving all people and their housing needs at all price points

08:51:29 From Rinaldi Jacobs Sr to Everyone:

Louisiana is very protective of property owners. It was not until Katrina that they started making changes. After the Great Flood of 2016 The Affadavid of Small Succession has been created un $125k it costs about $1100 as opposed to 5K

08:51:52 From One Rouge to Everyone:

wait! i thought lead paint was outlawed in the 70s.

08:52:00 From Pam Wall to Everyone:

Older homes--often those available to low rental consumers-- are often owned by older citizens who cannot afford to fix them up, don't have the knowledge or tools to do that work, and finally have to put them up for sale.

08:52:06 From Alexis Jones - Habitat for Humanity to Everyone:

How are we addressing everyone who can't afford housing because of evictions during t