Thirty formerly homeless New Orleans residents call the Rosa F. Keller Building home, but this week it earned another label when it was awarded the 2013 Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Award for Excellence in Public Interest Design.
The building, named for a civic activist who was a leader in the battle for racial desegregation, provides mixed-income housing to formerly homeless, disabled persons and low income workers. The project, located at 2222 Tulane Avenue, was created by UNITY of Greater New Orleans, HRI Properties and Community Solutions.
In 2003, a director of the Downtown Development District in New Orleans visited Community Solutions in New York for help in bringing a long-term solution to homelessness to New Orleans. From that introduction, we were connected to UNITY, whose team had recognized the need for mixed-income permanent supportive housing as an option for the City’s most vulnerable homeless, as well as for lower income working residents seeking safe and affordable places to live.
Before Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans, more than 6,000 residents were homeless. The storm devastated the City and nearly doubled that number.
In the wake of the storm, we teamed up with UNITY to assist with the short-term recovery effort and formed a series of partnerships with local developers to begin creating long-term housing solutions for individuals with disabilities and others needing affordable housing. The first of these partnerships, with HRI Properties, created the Rosa F. Keller Building.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Rosa F. Keller Building was vacant and deteriorated. Now, the 60-unit energy-efficient building features a large internal courtyard with a fountain, a fitness room, a computer lab, a multi-purpose room, a music rehearsal room, case management offices, a 24-hour staffed front desk and security cameras. Ten apartments are specially designed for those with mobility impairments.
The building was one of six projects selected nationally by SEED through a competitive jury process and will be featured in The SEED Field Manual.
Community Solutions and UNITY just broke ground on another mixed-income supportive housing building with HRI at 2101 Louisiana Avenue. The building will serve homeless and returning veterans, and is expected to be completed by next summer.
Community Solutions' award was featured in the following publications: