Even before Hurricane Katrina struck, many New Orleanians were ill-served by aging, poorly maintained public housing. Damage from the 2005 storms, including mold, further weakened the structures. These families deserve better. HUD is committed to creating healthier, brighter, and safer mixed-income communities throughout the city. After careful review, HUD and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) are redeveloping and expanding housing for New Orleans families.
FACT: Thousands of run-down public housing units are being redeveloped.
HANO, under HUD receivership, is spearheading the construction and development of 5,108 affordable rental homes by 2010. The total includes:
- 3,343 public housing units; and
- 1,765 units for low-income (Section 8) voucher recipients.
In addition, 1,800 new residential units will be made available to buyers:
- 900 market-rate rental units; and
- 900 affordable market-rate homes.
This "mixed-income, mixed-use" strategy is designed to produce a safe, vibrant, economically sustainable community. It's a decades-old strategy that has enjoyed success in cities like Atlanta, Chicago and elsewhere in New Orleans. It's a vast improvement over the old paradigm of concentrating families in islands of poverty, a recipe for dependence and despair across generations.
FACT: HANO properties had suffered from serious and chronic problems before the hurricanes.
With most HANO properties over 70 years old and poorly maintained by HANO and the City, thousands were unable to be occupied prior to Hurricane Katrina. Financial mismanagement, poor maintenance, and neglect led to HANO's takeover by HUD in 2002, an extremely rare occurrence - fewer than 10 out of 3,200 local public housing authorities nationwide are currently in HUD receivership. The 2005 hurricanes brought a host of new troubles, such as wind, flood damage and mold contamination.
HUD has conducted a careful and thorough environmental and economic review of the dilapidated properties. It found that many were not salvageable, and that the repair cost was prohibitive, thus redevelopment was the preferred option.
- According to the analysis, it would cost $130 million to make only Katrina-related repairs to St. Bernard, B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete and Lafitte. But that would only be scratching the surface - the bare minimum.
- Modernization of those four properties to correct all pre-existing deficiencies and code violations would cost approximately $745 million, whereas demolition and the redevelopment of similarly configured homes would cost approximately $150 million less ($597 million).
FACT: HUD has a long record of careful and effective redevelopment of New Orleans public housing.
Since 2002, HUD has redeveloped half of the city's largest public housing complexes, including St. Thomas, Guste, Abundance Square (formerly Desire), Fischer and Florida. Every affected resident was provided with a roof over their heads, either through a voucher or a home in a redeveloped unit.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, HUD was making progress toward the redevelopment of the following public housing complexes: B.W. Cooper; C.J. Peete; Lafitte; and St. Bernard.
FACT: There is both community and legal support for redevelopment.
In July 2007, a Memorandum of Agreement initiated the redevelopment of the B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, Lafitte, and St. Bernard public housing complexes. It was signed by the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and HUD.
In November, a U.S. district court judge refused to further delay redevelopment, and HANO is committed to moving forward. This lawsuit, which was issued by people who never lived in public housing, only wasted valuable time for bringing back housing. Had the lawsuit never occurred, more housing could have already been built. We plan to have new housing up by 2010 without more delaying tactics.
Demands for redevelopment have also come from community and charity groups:
"Among those wishing HANO would swing the wrecking ball is the New Orleans-area Habitat for Humanity. If HANO would follow through with the proposed demolition of flood-damaged duplexes in one eastern New Orleans neighborhood, Habitat for Humanity could quickly build dozens of affordable single-family homes to be sold to the working poor, said Jim Pate, director of the local Habitat for Humanity." (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 8-13-07)
FACT: HUD is phasing-in the redevelopment, ensuring a balance between supply and demand.
Currently, as many as 300 units remain open, awaiting displaced residents. The New Orleans population is under two-thirds of its pre-hurricane level. Areas that experienced flooding, many of which served a greater proportion of low-income families, are being repopulated at a slower rate. In St. Bernard Parish, for example, the population is estimated to be 30,000, down from 67,000 before the storms.
HUD has a team working alongside HANO staff in New Orleans to contact families displaced by the hurricanes to make arrangements for their return as units are fixed and readied for occupancy.
- Every family that resided in public housing prior to Hurricane Katrina is currently receiving rental assistance. Those residents will continue to receive assistance until their new homes are completed.
- To date, almost half of the public housing units occupied before the disaster have been repaired and are ready to be re-occupied.
- About 300 units at B.W.Cooper, Guste, Fischer, Iberville and River Garden remain unoccupied.
- HANO and FEMA will pay relocation costs for families outside of New Orleans who want to return.
FACT: Housing and Community Development for New Orleanians are supported by the American people.
Through its Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program, HUD has provided $16.7 billion in federal funds for housing assistance to the Gulf Coast region.
- Of this amount, more than $10.4 billion was allocated to Louisiana, with an additional $3 billion on the way.
- Louisiana has chosen to allocate $7.8 billion through its Road Home program to help displaced homeowners and renters.
- To date, over $3.4 billion have been spent by the state, assisting over 42,000 Louisiana homeowners.