Mayor Marc H. Morial

Outstanding Achievement Award
The City of New Orleans and Freddie Mac "At Home in New Orleans" Homeownership Partnership

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.

  • City of New Orleans, Division of Housing & Neighborhood Development . Facilitates permitting processes, including those related to historic district designation; facilitates identifying and acquiring properties through direct sale or expropriation; provides subsidy funding and credit enhancements; assists in marketing the properties to new home buyers.
  • Freddie Mac . Offers a menu of low-down-payment affordable loan products tailored to meet the needs of the program and potential home buyers in the community; purchases up to $20 million in mortgages originated by local lenders and securitizes the loans into Freddie Mac Gold PCs.
  • AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust . Facilitated the support and cooperation of local labor organizations; purchases the Freddie Mac PCs collateralized by the mortgages originated in the program.
  • Southeast Louisiana Building & Construction Trades Council . Executed a project labor agreement ensuring minority workers' access to local trade union organizations.
  • New Orleans Redevelopment Team . Developed designs, plans and specifications for property rehabilitation; coordinates property acquisition; provides construction management and administration services; coordinates promotion and marketing to prospective home buyers.
  • Standard Mortgage Corporation . Originates and services mortgage loans under the program; sells the mortgage loans to Freddie Mac.
  • 7th Ward Community Services Corporation . Serves as a conduit for the properties being rehabilitated for resale to individual home buyers.
  • Neighborhood Development Foundation and Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans . Provide comprehensive pre- and post-closing homeownership education and counseling.
  • Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation . Makes mortgage insurance available for the program.

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.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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