In early 2014, the Foundation for Louisiana’s TOGETHER Initiative convened an affordable housing group of residents and non-profits to develop strategies for improving housing policies and increasing equity in New Orleans. The result was HousingNOLA: a community-led housing process that would seek address the housing needs of New Orleans over ten years. The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) was chosen by the group to manage the initial HousingNOLA process, assisted by fair housing advocates, developers and City officials – in partnership with civic, neighborhood, business, and philanthropic leaders. GNOHA is a collaborative of home builders and community development organization advocating for the preservation and production of affordable housing.
HousingNOLA is now a 10-year partnership between the community leaders, and dozens of public, private, and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis. The data indicates the need for 33,600 additional affordable units in the city by 2025 and the data clearly shows that wages have not come close to mirroring the dramatic rise in housing costs. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath destroyed over 275,000 homes and disrupted countless lives, but New Orleanians are resilient. For the 10 years immediately after the Hurricane, passionate citizens worked with non-profit, community-based organizations to rebuild their homes and regenerate their city in a more equitable fashion. New Orleans is evolving into a very different place from what it was before Katrina. Though its population is still below pre-Katrina levels, New Orleans is one of the fastest growing cities in America – according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Evidence shows the growing population is not just the result of returning residents, but an influx of college educated, young adults.
HousingNOLA is not just a 10-year plan, but a 10-year process.
Before Katrina, New Orleans was a rarity. A city where almost everyone was “from here,” deeply rooted in their neighborhoods, traditions and history. As the city rebuilds, many long-time residents are worried about the economic effects newcomers will have on the city – especially in the area of keeping homes affordable. While renewal continues and the threat of another hurricane lingers in the back of people’s minds, these are no longer the issues that will determine the future of this city when it comes to housing. New Orleans now has to deal with changing demographic realities, diminishing funding sources, and an inadequate supply of housing. The challenge is, can New Orleans evolve to meet the housing needs for a broad range of lifestyles, ages and incomes while also retaining its traditions and distinctive way of life?
The HousingNOLA 10-Year Strategy and Implementation Plan (launched in December 2015) sets a new standard for housing policy by:
- Examining the state of the housing and community development sector in New Orleans
- Recommending how New Orleans can leverage and secure new resources concerning affordable housing
- Identifying current policies and those that need to be created for a more equitable New Orleans that provides housing options for all
- Benchmarking progress for the 10-year strategy in the housing sector.
In order to create a benchmark of where the City of New Orleans has been, where it is currently, and where it’s going – HousingNOLA seeks to achieve the following:
- Preserve existing housing and expand the total supply of affordable rental and homeownership opportunities throughout the City of New Orleans
- Understand where displacement is happening in New Orleans and prevent future displacement
- Enforce and promote fair housing policies throughout New Orleans
- Encourage sustainable design and infrastructure for all New Orleanians
- Increase accessibility for all residents, including special needs residents
Though the housing issues we face are diverse - whether it’s skyrocketing rent, soaring insurance costs, substandard rental conditions, or for many of our residents, barriers to obtaining housing – these problems are all interrelated and must be addressed as a whole. HousingNOLA represents an opportunity to define the housing challenges and develop strategies to address those issues over 10 years. Rather than just being a written document, HousingNOLA is an ongoing initiative to collectively remind New Orleans and its elected officials of the issues we face and our pledge to maintain a plan of action. It guides policy makers in determining what funding and policy for housing should look like, based upon what New Orleanians want. Since responsibility of this plan goes beyond the realm of our elected officials, this plan will live on even as mayors, city councilmembers, and other elected officials come and go. It’s our job to hold our leaders accountable to the recommendations we make in HousingNOLA.
Andreanecia M. Morris
Andreanecia M. Morris serves as the Executive Director for HousingNOLA, a 10-year partnership between the community leaders, and dozens of public, private, and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis. Prior to her role as Executive Director, Morris spearheaded the development of the HousingNOLA 10-year Strategy and Implementation Plan. The strategy indicates the need for 33,600 new affordable housing opportunities by 2025. Through the partners’ collective efforts, approximately 2,200 opportunities have been created since the plan launched in 2015.
Morris has spent her career working to create affordable housing since graduating from Loyola University. Post Katrina, she directly implemented programs that created 500 first time homebuyers, disbursed $10 million in homebuyer subsidy, and provided supportive services for approximately 5,000 households—homeowners who were struggling to rebuild and renters who required wrap around services.
Morris was lead organizer for the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) when it started in 2007 and, since its incorporation in 2012, Morris has served as GNOHA’s President. GNOHA’s advocacy supported members and partners in developing approximately 88,000 housing opportunities between 2006 and 2015 in New Orleans. She also chairs the HousingLOUISIANA Alliance Network, serves on the boards of the Friends of Lafitte Greenway and the Finance Authority of New Orleans and was recently named to Federal Reserve Community Advisory Committee.
Gambit Weekly named Morris New Orleanian of the Year for her role in HousingNOLA’s unwavering commitment to ending the affordability crisis in 2017. As a part of the celebrations around New Orleans' tricentennial anniversary, JP Morgan Chase partnered with the Times Picayune to name Morris one of 12 "Icons of New Orleans” as part of the NOLA.com 300 for 300 campaign in 2018
Outreach and Engagement Program Manager
Cynthia Thomas was previously a HousingNOLA fellow and currently coordinates various HousingNOLA initiatives such as Housing and Complex Care, NOLA RPS Stakeholder, the ReEntry Housing Committee, EEFA, Opportunity Youth, and Culture Bearer Committees.
Cynthia hails from Monroe and attended Southern University in Baton Rouge where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication which she put to use at KNOE and WGNO news stations. In April of 2020, her family lost their home in a tornado, and this experience informs her passion for advocating for affordable housing for all.
Charles Nicholson oversees various initiatives at HousingNOLA including Anti-Displacement, Public Policy, and Community Engagement.
While studying English at The University of New Orleans, he was Managing Editor at the campus newspaper.
Charles is a New Orleans native and lifelong resident who has undergone periods of unstable housing. His experiences working and living in the city drives his passion for politics to create a more equitable and humane society.
Data and Research Program Manager
Romy LaCour specializes in data analytics, contributing to housing policy development and implementation across the state. They facilitated HousingNOLA's Data Working Group, Assessor's Working Group, and a quarterly policy convening on the needs of vulnerable populations in addition to providing technical assistance to team members on an ongoing basis and heading the production of HousingNOLA's Annual State of Housing Report Card.
Romy attended the University of New Orleans and Romy's master's studies in International Development at Wageningen University & Research convinced them that the best place to be was home in New Orleans. Romy enjoys long walks alongside bodies of water.
Senior Director of Programs
Trenika Starks serves as Sr. Director of Programs. She leads, oversees, and manages the housing programs for HousingNOLA. Born and raised in New Orleans, LA, Trenika temporarily relocated to St. Louis, MO, after Hurricane Katrina. There she entered the banking industry and found her purpose in community development. Since then, she has exceeded 15 years of specialized experience. She has served in the fields of marketing, business development, community development, affordable housing, and blended banking, including retail, consumer, and commercial lending.
She earned her Masters and B.S. of Business Administration degrees from Fontbonne University.
Trenika is an advocate for equality and justice for the disenfranchised. She is also strongly passionate about financial wellness. Trenika aspires to help build wealth, by improving access to affordable housing through financial education and empowerment.
Program Coordinator 2020-2021
Isabella Feige joined GNOHA as a fellow with HousingNola in the fall of 2020. She currently coordinates the Public Policy Committee and Community Review Team. Isabella also assists with initiatives such as the Smart Housing Mix Tiger Team, Senior Housing and Minority Populations with Language Barriers.
Isabella grew up in Dallas, Texas and Northern New Jersey. She attended college at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where she studied English and Public Policy. Her junior year she was an exchange student at the University of Cape Town, South Africa where she completed field work in community development. Isabella is passionate about promoting equitable policy and advocacy to protect the right to fair housing of the residents of New Orleans.
Samantha Romain serves as HousingNOLA’s Program Director supporting staff, fellows, and interns within the organization. Samantha coordinates efforts of several committees and initiatives including HousingNOLA's Capacity Building group, Lender's Roundtable, Housing Investment Table, Own the Crescent, and Data Working Group.
Samantha is a native New Orleanian. She has worked in fields encompassing environmental hazards and mitigation planning, education, affordable housing, social policy planning, and community outreach and engagement. Samantha earned her Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of New Orleans (UNO) in May 2019. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management and Community Resilience, and a B.S. in Urban Studies and Planning from UNO as well. Samantha earned her Associate of General Science degree from The College of Southern Nevada in 2006. She is dedicated to efforts to promote resilience and sustainability within communities.
HousingNOLA and GNOHA
HousingNOLA was facilitated, and then later incubated by the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance. Since 2015, HousingNOLA has grown into a platform to link community members and neighbors with policymakers, developers, and others who are shaping the face of New Orleans. As a result of this effort, HousingNOLA crafted the city’s first-ever 10-Year Strategy and Implementation Plan.
With the implementation plan now in place, HousingNOLA continues to facilitate opportunites for:
- local leaders to listen to the community;
- the community to inform and educate policy makers on their housing needs; and
- bringing diverse groups of people together to address the changes and challenges to affordable housing thoughout New Orleans.
HousingNOLA is made possible through support from the Ford Foundation, Greater New Orleans Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Capital One, Energy Foundation, University of Pennsylvania, acting through its Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, Foundation for Louisiana, Edward Wisner Donation, and the people of New Orleans.