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Fact Sheet: Redevelopment that Respects New Orleanians

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Even before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, decades of mismanagement, poor maintenance, and neglect had left many housing units in New Orleans unfit for habitation. More than 30 percent of units were unoccupied. Long before the storm, HUD was working to rebuild the public housing system to meet the needs of low-income New Orleanians, including the need for safety and access to economic services, through its proven "mixed-use, mixed-income" plan. HUD is also committed to addressing the immediate housing needs of former New Orleans residents seeking to return to the City. Every resident who wishes to return will continue to be supported in that effort.


  • FACT: Prior to Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans public housing units were vacant and/or unfit for habitation.
    • Total number of units: 7,379
    • Number occupied by residents / others: 5,146 (69.7 %) Source: Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO)

QUOTE: "Even before Katrina, the public housing projects here were among the nation's most notorious, ridden with crime and slumping into disrepair." -USA Today, 12-14-07

QUOTE: "Desire and the city's other eight projects, which were started in 1937, deteriorated from solid, low-cost housing to crime- and drug-riddled slums of crumbling buildings.... [HUD's] plan is to make major changes for the long-suffering tenants of the projects." -Associated Press, 4-10-04

  • FACT: In 2002, HUD took the rare step of taking over the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), which had been plagued by years of mismanagement, waste, and delay. After careful review to determine which structures were unfit for habitation, HUD acted.
    • Since 2002, HUD and HANO have embarked on redevelopment of half of the City's largest public housing complexes, including St. Thomas, Guste, Abundance Square (formerly Desire), Fischer, and Florida.
    • Prior to Katrina, HUD and HANO had plans to redevelop the B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, Lafitte, and St. Bernard complexes.
    • Every resident affected by redevelopment has been provided with a roof over their heads, either through a housing voucher or a home in a repaired unit.

QUOTE: "Even longtime HANO critics say the federal team has helped turn around a Section 8 office that was slow, disorganized and possibly corrupt." -New Orleans Times-Picayune, 11-14-04

  • FACT: HUD is replacing distressed housing that once "warehoused" the poor with new units in healthy, mixed-income communities. This "mixed-use" redevelopment strategy has a proven track record of success in cities like Atlanta and Chicago, and a long history of bipartisan national support.
    • In 1992, the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing published a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed housing.
    • Under President Clinton, the HOPE VI program began promoting mixed-income communities to break up concentrations of poverty.
    • In 1995, Congress removed the one-for-one unit replacement requirement for public housing redevelopment.


The damage from Hurricane Katrina added urgency to the redevelopment effort HUD had already begun. Redevelopment of the B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, Lafitte, and St. Bernard complexes has been launched with strong community support. Residents will continue to be consulted, and a number of buildings at each site will be preserved. Last month (Nov. 2007), a U.S. district court judge refused to delay redevelopment. Our goal is that by Christmas 2010, families will celebrate the holidays in their new, safe, clean, and vibrant neighborhoods. To meet this goal, we can no longer afford to delay the beginning of a new New Orleans.

  • FACT: HANO is committed to moving forward in the development of 5,108 affordable rental homes by 2010:
    • 3,343 public housing units; and
    • 1,765 units for low-income families and Section 8 voucher recipients.

In addition, 1,800 new residential units will be made available:

    • At least 900 market-rate rental units; and
    • At least 900 affordable or market-rate homeownership units.
  • FACT: Delay of redevelopment would be extremely costly, in both financial and human terms. If redevelopment of the four complexes does not go forward:
    • Approximately $300 million in tax credit equity for the creation of affordable housing will be lost;
    • $108 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds will be lost;
    • 3,000 housing vouchers would be lost, forcing families to make their own rental payments; and
    • At least 94 units of rehabilitated affordable housing would be jeopardized.

QUOTE: "As the saying goes, 'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.' Maintaining New Orleans's failed public housing would be a prime example of that." -Washington Post, 12-20-07

  • FACT: Public housing residents who left New Orleans because of the hurricane have priority in reclaiming their original units or other available public housing units. And they have HUD's ongoing support.
    • HUD is willing to pay certain relocation costs.
    • HUD is willing to negotiate terms of leases with current landlords.
    • No minimum income level is required for residency.
  • FACT: HUD is contacting families and phasing-in redevelopment to ensure that housing supply meets demand.
    • Up to 300 units remain open and "key-ready," awaiting displaced residents.

QUOTE: "HUD is surveying former public housing residents to find out how many want to come home, but so far the agency has had trouble filling even the few units it has reopened." -USA Today, 12-14-07

QUOTE: "The current population [of New Orleans] remains stuck at somewhere between 200,000 and 280,000, far below the pre-hurricane level of 450,000." -New York Times, 12-18-07

  • FACT: HUD has strongly supported Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region with ample funds for housing, community development, and infrastructure.
    • Since the 2005 hurricanes, HUD has provided $19.7 billion in CDBG funding to the Gulf Coast.
    • Of that amount, more than half-$10.4 billion-has already been allocated to Louisiana.
    • Another $3 billion is on the way to the state.

Content current as of 20 December 2007   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
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