To celebrate Homeownership Month in June, our Executive Director, Nicole Barnes, shared her thoughts in a letter to the editor published by The New Orleans Advocate regarding why affordable homeownership is imperative for our economy.
The month of June in southeastern Louisiana brings about two things each year: smoldering heat, and the start of hurricane season. The first month of summer is also notable for another reason; June is National Homeowner
ship Month. While homeownership levels decreased nationally, after the 2008 financial market crash, the value of homeownership has not diminished. Owning property is just as lucrative as it was in the post-World War II era; the difference today is that the opportunity for homeownership is now extended to all citizens, rather than a small, specific segment of the population.
Homeownership matters to individuals, to communities, and to the entire country — but why? What makes homeownership so valuable to the American economy? Besides the stability it provides owners, especially those with young families, homeownership is the undeniable foundation for building generational wealth. It is the wealth generated from homeownership that has allowed families to achieve social and economic mobility, whereas the lack of access to homeownership has left many behind.
Homes typically increase in value, build equity, and provide a nest egg for the uncertain future. An investment in a home is one of the smartest financial decisions an individual or family can make. The earned equity from the sale of their original starter home gives first-time homebuyers the opportunity to upgrade and purchase homes in higher-quality neighborhoods with closer access to goods and services, as well as the proliferation of financial gains in the form of rising property value. By focusing on first-time homebuyers communities can make real investments in their residents, who will, in turn, pump their prosperity back into the local economy. If we continue to do nothing to engage this important population of potential homeowners, we will continue to deprive our city of the economic prosperity it so desperately needs, as well as opportunities for financial mobility for those who need it most.
In Louisiana, 20 percent of homeowners are currently cost-burdened, meaning 30 percent or more of their monthly gross income is dedicated to housing. According to Policy Link, by making the necessary investments to lessen this burden and thus making homeownership more affordable, the additional economic power these homeowners would have under a scenario of no housing burden is $197 million for the City of New Orleans and $1.3 billion for the state. If everyone, not just our public officials, worked together to #PutHousingFirst we would see a dramatic decrease in the housing insecurity that’s plagued our communities for far too long. During National Homeownership Month, I urge you all to make a personal and unwavering commitment to #PutHousingFirst, because the future of our city, and our state, depends on the stability of its homeowners.
Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative of New Orleans