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NORA Breaks Ground on Mixed-Income Housing

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), in partnership with UNITY of Greater New Orleans, has announced the groundbreaking for a mixed-income permanent supportive housing development in Central City. The project aims to reduce and help solve chronic homelessness in the Crescent City, as well as contribute affordable workforce housing.

“NORA was proud to partner with UNITY once again on a project that provides housing to some of the most under-served citizens in our community. …This project showcases the diversity of NORA’s work in the city,” Jeff Hebert, executive director of NORA, declared in a press release.

The project will be developed at 2101 Louisiana Ave. in Central City, on the site of hurricane-damaged property. The structure, a one-time seniors housing estate, foreclosed following Hurricane Katrina. The former assisted living center will be renovated and redeveloped into a mixed-income housing project combining workforce housing units and permanent supportive housing.

Low-income housing units will target tenants earning 50 percent or less of the area’s average income. Permanent supportive housing is the only nationally proven method of discontinuing the chronic homelessness of people with disabilities (physical or mental). The program provides affordable rental housing paired with on-site case management services.

Upon completion, the redeveloped community will feature 32 one-bedroom units and 10 efficiencies. Efficiencies are similar to studio apartments, but are smaller in size, usually featuring one room with a kitchenette. Bathrooms may accompany units, but most of the time efficiency apartments offer private living space, with several units sharing a bathroom.

The community’s amenities include a fitness facility, a multipurpose room, a computer room, a 24-hour staffed front desk, as well as a spacious internal courtyard with water features. Security cameras will guard the property, also housing onsite social services offices and property management staff offices. The building will also be energy efficient.

“New Orleans has become a national leader in the rate at which we’re reducing
homelessness. … This apartment building demonstrates the best practices that have led to this success,” emphasized Martha Kegel, executive director of  UNITY of Greater New Orleans, the nonprofit organization founded in 1992 that coordinates the work of 60 organizations serving the homeless. In January 2012, New Orleans had an estimated unsheltered population of approximately 4,903 people – 2.5 times higher than in 2005, before Katrina, but 57 percent lower than in 2007, showing that widespread implementation of permanent housing programs are working efficiently.

The cost of the project is provided from a mix of government funding, nonprofits, philanthropies, civic leaders, businesses, foundations and individual donations.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority Facebook page