The L9WHA works to protect and preserve affordable homeownership and advocate for resident-driven redevelopment by providing policy recommendations at the local, state and federal levels and by implementing these policies at the neighborhood level. This Big Picture/Grassroots approach ensures that lessons learned at the community level cycle up to policymakers while providing residents technical expertise honed from an understanding of policies. This approach creates symbiotic relationships across levels and communities and better ensures the long-term sustainability of housing and redevelopment programs. Furthermore, after more than a decade of experience working on affordable housing and community development projects, the L9WHA has developed a strong network of cross-boundary partnerships with local, state and national officials and housing agencies, private developers, planners, builders and architects, academic institutions from across New Orleans and the nation as well as myriad community and faith-based organizations based in the L9W, New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast region. This large, and always growing, network coupled with our Big Picture/Grassroots approach greatly enhances our impact.
Our core strength is our ability to uncover systemic problems at the ground level and bring solutions to policy-makers, bridging the gap between affected communities and the people in power. As we learn about systemic issues through our work with individual homeowners, we develop solutions and present them to policy makers—then implement the policy changes at the neighborhood level.
Building the Future
This summer, the American Institute of Architects sent a team of experts to the L9W to work with the neighborhood to develop a vision for the future. More than 100 residents, business owners and stakeholders participated in the planning process, along with Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen. The resulting plan—which includes immediate steps for moving
forward together—focuses holistically on economic development, culture, infrastructure, and housing, recognizing that each is essential to a full recovery. Most exciting of all, the community members who came together to create a vision and a plan are now building the future they envisioned together. We are taking a leading role in the housing area:
Creating Homes. Though our population continues to grow, it is still only 40% of its pre-storm size. To bring more residents home and draw new neighbors to our community, we are putting together the pieces of a successful housing program:
1. Land. The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), a part of city government, owns 600 properties in the L9W that were once the homes of neighborhood families. These are now a supply of low-cost, mostly vacant land ready for building—and we are committed to making sure they become homes again.
2. Cost-effective Construction. On the recommendation of the AIA, we are exploring the development of a prototype house with a modular CORE containing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (kitchen, bath, and laundry), surrounded by a frame home to be built onsite by local contractors.
3. Financing. Though funding for housing is scarce, we are working with our new Mayor and Councilmember and with NORA to create opportunities in the L9W. We have already had our first success! NORA recently issued a proposal to build 10 homes on its vacant land—each one carrying a $100,000 subsidy. We helped shape the proposal to ensure the homes would be available to former residents and worked with contractors to submit applications.
Saving Homes. Unfortunately, Ms. Gentry is not alone. We are working with other families like hers who find their homes under threat due to taxes and Code Enforcement citations that piled up during their years of
Clearing Abandoned Lots. The AIA also recognized that the huge number of overgrown lots not owned by NORA are a blight on our neighborhood. We have been working on this issue since it topped the list of concerns at our first community meeting. Outreach specialists Galethea Baham and Cynthia Guillemet worked with residents to determine which blocks were causing the most serious problems, including corner lots with obscured stop signs—and then assisted the city’s Lot Abatement Program on the development of a plan to clear the lots and keep them maintained. As a result of your support, the city has now developed a $1 million program to keep lots cleared.