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15 Years

The people of New Orleans are all too familiar with the effects a CAT 4 Hurricane can have on a city. As such, the city and its people have opened their doors to hundreds of families needing a place to stay and have partnered with numerous organizations throughout the city to serve those hardest hit by Laura.

Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As the nation continues to face the challenges of COVID-19, the Gulf Coast bore the burden of 2 storms this week. Our thoughts and prayers are with southwest Louisiana and Texas as they are facing the brutal winds and water of Hurricane Laura. This storm made landfall just days before the 15th anniversary of the levees failing during Hurricane Katrina.

As our community reflects on the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we know the city would have been filled with commemorative events including second lines throughout the neighborhoods, moments of silence at the historical site markers, and families joining together to support each other. While many of these events have been cancelled, moved online, or drastically reduced, because of the pandemic and hurricanes, we would like to take a moment to join together with you -our extended family -to properly remember and honor those whose lives were lost, lament the neighborhood that was forever altered, celebrate the progress that has been made to bring people home, and look forward to the full restoration of our historic community.

"Even though I suffered the loss of family members and friends, I strongly believe the community will come back. People from Louisiana are resilient and every home built represents their strength." - Gaynell Brady, new Executive Director of L9WHA

In 2006, amidst the devastation of the storm, our founder Linda Jackson had a vision - a community fully restored & filled with long-time residents. As a result of her passion for bringing this vision to life, dozens of families were able to rebuild their homes, our beloved high school reopened in a new, state-of-the-art facility, and the community was able to come together to share their concerns and make their voices heard.

We are still working to fill our neighborhood with long-time residents and newcomers as well. At a recent meeting of the L9 Housing Table, which is chaired by M.A, our Housing Director, we celebrated with four contractors who are nearing completion of ten new homes slated for homeownership in the L9. Each contractor spoke excitedly of the families working to purchase these homes, and the promise of doing more projects in the future.

The L9WHA team also recently completed a huge outreach campaign to find people who are at risk of losing the homes they – and their ancestors –have worked so hard for. We are helping them challenge their assessments if their properties are overvalued and apply for Homestead Exemptions and Age Freezes. This will reduce their taxes and allow them to stay in their homes as they age – or raise young families.

As we continue to honor the legacy of homeownership in the L9, we have our eyes focused on the future. After the storm, Cynthia, our case manager, remembers the overwhelming sense that she was going to simply have to live with the devastation, holding onto only pieces of the memories that her mother and grandmother had left her. Now, 15 years later, while Cynthia recognizes that things aren't ever going to be exactly the same, she strives with every homeowner she serves and with every meeting she hosts to share the memories of a community where neighbors became family after 40 years, and to work to build that community once again - one homeowner at a time.

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