CITY OF NEW ORLEANS,
New Orleans, one of America's oldest cities, is famous for its rich cultural and architectural history, a history that is reflected in its diverse residential neighborhoods. Like many older cities, however, New Orleans has struggled in recent years with high unemployment rates, high vacancy and abandonment rates, low homeownership rates and severe deterioration of its housing stock.
To address these problems, the City and Freddie Mac have created AAt Home in New Orleans.@ Utilizing a targeted neighborhood approach, this partnership will rehabilitate, restore and replace up to 500 vacant and blighted properties over a three-to-five-year period, providing new homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families. The first 50 homes are located in the St. Peter Claver neighborhood in Treme, one of the oldest African-American neighborhoods in the country. The partnership also improves minority workers' access to local trade union organizations, providing increased employment opportunities and better wages and benefits.
In March 1997, the City of New Orleans, Freddie Mac, AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, 7th Ward Community Services Corporation, New Orleans Redevelopment Team of Wallace Enterprises, Gilbane Building Company and Campbell Tiu Campbell Architects signed a memorandum of understanding. In it, each of the partners agreed to undertake specific program activities. In the months that followed, additional participants joined the endeavor, and a comprehensive program was assembled. It is a collaboration in which each partner contributes what it does best.
The program is now in the implementation phase, with all elements of its rather complex financing plan in place and all relevant agreements among the parties executed. A comprehensive property analysis of the initial target neighborhood has been completed. Seven properties have been acquired and 57 more are in the process of a direct sale or expropriation. A series of prototype designs appropriate for the historic district have been developed, and permitting processes have been initiated. Construction on the first seven properties was scheduled to begin December 1998. Work is underway on a pipeline of prospective home buyers to purchase homes from the 7th Ward Community Services Corporation as properties are completed.
AAt Home in New
Orleans@ marks the first effort to develop and implement a
comprehensive, neighborhood-focused approach to rehabilitating the
City's substantial stock of historic vacant and blighted housing
while creating new employment opportunities for its minority residents.
Officials in New Orleans believe that this innovative approach may be
valuable in other urban areas in which population shifts have left
substantial numbers of vacant and abandoned properties in older
neighborhoods. They believe, as well, that the willingness of each of the
New Orleans project partners to respond creatively to numerous and
complicated circumstances should stand as a model for public/private
partnerships in cities throughout the nation.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.