New Orleans developer Pres Kabacoff on housing and gentrification



Gawker contributor Peter Moskowitz is writing a book about gentrification. He interviewed New Orleans developer Pres Kabacoff about his company, HRI Properties, which has been a major force in developing the Warehouse District, CBD and Lower Garden District, including remaking public housing projects. The interview (posted here) addresses building housing, gentrification and the poor.

From the interview:
Moskowitz: How do you make money and make affordable housing at the same time?

Kabacoff: The trick is to get market rate to come. The affordable will come. But if the market rate doesn't come, you end up with all the affordable and the issues they tried to unwind with these programs like Hope VI. On the affordable side, probably a third of those people you would love to have as your neighbor, another third—the kind of people who if their refrigerator stops working their life falls apart—if you can get them stable, you want them, and a third you just don't have the social staff to deal with the issues they're bringing to the table.

When we do developments, it's usually its one-third market, one-third workforce, and one-third former public housing—mothers with children on food stamps and all that stuff. There's a mixture of people. How do we afford to do the affordable piece? You need a lot of subsidy.

Moscowitz: But what about that last third? The poorest. How do you house them?

Kabacoff: If there's crime that follows, the market rate gets nervous, votes with their feet and leaves, then it doesn't work. So what do you do with the third that's too difficult? You just don't take them, or you evict them. Just get them out of there. I don't have the staff to deal with them. One of the deficiencies of the Hope VI model is how do you provide social services for those people?
Moskowitz also responded to some reader questions. He's written for Gawker on housing issues and development in New York, Detroit, Camden, New Jersey, Paris and other cities.

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