Historically, New Orleanians understand their city’s geography according to neighborhoods. Yet, many of these neighborhoods are changing rapidly due to shifting demographics, increasing housing costs and vacancy. Locals are familiar with their neighborhoods’ unique distinctions – their rich cultural histories, geographic boundaries, and the people that live there – and a single plan cannot capture this holistic knowledge and deep nuance.
Understanding this challenge, HousingNOLA provides a framework for assessing challenges and recommending policies by neighborhood. HousingNOLA avoided ranking them by the traditional scale of “weak” to “strong.” Instead, each neighborhood was assigned a precious stone according to their typology: Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond, Amber (previously Ruby), and Topaz. The Neighborhood Typology is designed to be updated annually, using easily accessible data sources so that the GNOHA may track its progress over the 10-year timeframe of HousingNOLA.
The following data sources were used to create the HousingNOLA Neighborhood Typology:
- Number of and Change in Building Permits, 2012-2014
- Vacancy Rate, 2013
- Historic Housing Stock (Housing Units Built Before 1939), 2013
- Contract Rent and Change in Rent, 2000 to 2013
- Price Per Square Foot and Change in Price Per Square Foot for Homes Sold, 2009 to 2014
- Median Household Income and Change in Median Household Income, 2000 to 2013
- Mix of Rental and Homeowner Households, 2013
- Proximity to Historic Neighborhoods, Ruby and Topaz Neighborhoods
HousingNOLA Neighborhood Typology 2020
HousingNOLA Neighborhood Typology 2015
Neighborhood Typology Development
The development of the HousingNOLA Neighborhood Typology included the ability to use data that was publicly accessible in order to track HousingNOLA’s progress over the next 10 years.xiii The HousingNOLA Neighborhood Index will serve as a valuable tool for tracking neighborhood change, and assisting with housing policy and funding choices by grouping neighborhoods with similar conditions.
The HousingNOLA Neighborhood Typology is intended as a tool to meet neighborhoods where they are and assess strategies based on current conditions. The following section outlines HousingNOLA’s neighborhood typologies.
Emerald neighborhoods have higher rates of vacant lots and homes, and there is limited housing market activity. Rather than investing in new housing, strategies in Emerald neighborhoods should include improving conditions of homes through homeowner rehabilitation funds and implementing basic health and safety standards for rental properties. With limited market interest, and high levels of vacant lots, exploring alternative land uses as well as low-cost methods of transferring vacant lots to neighborhood residents can stabilize Emerald neighborhoods. Many Emerald neighborhoods are isolated and have limited access to amenities. Neighborhood revitalization efforts should focus on catalytic investments that increase access to quality jobs, recreation, transit and increased safety.
Sapphire neighborhoods have affordable rents and home prices and but have experienced limited housing market activity. Some Sapphire neighborhoods, including Central City, Tulane/Gravier and the Seventh Ward, are proximate to changing neighborhoods and have historic housing stock making them more susceptible to neighborhood change. Comparatively, neighborhoods in Gentilly, the West Bank, New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward have seen a mix of market activity but are comparatively affordable compared to Diamond, Ruby and Topaz neighborhoods. Strategies in Sapphire neighborhoods next to changing neighborhoods should focus on preventing displacement by neglect by offering tax incentives and repair loans to low-income homeowners and landlords and creating additional homeownership opportunities. In other Sapphire neighborhoods, the same strategies should be coupled with additional investments to create access to quality jobs, recreation, transit and increased safety.
Diamond neighborhoods are experiencing the most significant changes in the data measured by the Neighborhood Typology. These neighborhoods have seen drastic increases in household income, home prices and rents. The mix of homeowners and renters, as well as high number of historic properties, make Diamond neighborhoods more susceptible to displacement of low-income residents. To stabilize low-income residents, strategies in Diamond neighborhoods should focus on creating and retaining affordable homes. This includes creating additional homeownership opportunities for low-income buyers, construction of affordable rentals, and using public land to create long-term affordable rental and for-sale homes.
Amber (Previously Ruby) neighborhoods are strong housing markets, with high rents and home prices, increasing household incomes, and a mix of homeowners and renters. As higher-cost neighborhoods, stabilizing existing low-income renters and homeowners is critical to maintaining a mix of incomes in these neighborhoods. Due to limited land availability, high land prices and frequent neighborhood opposition to affordable housing developments, preservation of existing and expanding affordable housing opportunities in neighborhoods with amenities is critical for creating mixed-income neighborhoods. Strategies in Ruby neighborhoods should focus on using government-owned land for affordable housing; inclusionary zoning for creating additional affordable housing opportunities; and removing regulatory barriers for affordable housing development including reducing parking requirements, and expediting zoning and permitting processes.
Topaz neighborhoods have the highest incomes, highest amount of homeowners, highest rents and land values. While there are few affordable housing opportunities in Topaz neighborhoods, strategies should focus on retaining subsidized homes in these neighborhoods, and creating additional opportunities for affordable rental and homeownership opportunities. These neighborhoods have few rental properties, but have some of the highest access to quality parks, transit, schools, healthcare and lower crime rates. Affordable housing opportunities should be created in these neighborhoods through the use of inclusionary zoning to include affordable units in market rate developments, and utilizing public land to create affordable rental opportunities.