Veteran’s Day weekend in New Orleans this year brought with it the promise of new housing for homeless residents, including returning veterans as construction got underway at 2101 Louisiana Avenue. The property will become the second mixed-income supportive permanent housing development for the city.
2101 Louisiana Avenue is an initiative of UNITY of Greater New Orleans, Community Solutions and HRI properties. Like the Rosa F. Keller Building, the first building of its kind in the area, which was also developed by our team, the building will provide 42-units of integrated housing that includes 21 affordable appartments for low-income workers and 21 units for formerly homeless and disabled tenants. The residents will have access to on-site case management services to assist with health, mental health and employment needs.
The groundbreaking on Saturday drew community members, local officials, possible tenants and project funders. Speakers emphasized that there is still a dire need for affordable housing in a city where two-thirds of rental stock was destroyed by floodwaters seven years ago.
“The need for this type of housing existed before Katrina, but the storm exacerbated it,” said Nadine Maleh, director of the Creating Homes division at Community Solutions. “We are excited to be bringing this urgently needed housing on line for New Orleans' homeless and returning veterans."
The population of homeless people in New Orleans is still twice what it was in the years before the storm. But the number living in shelters or on the streets has dropped 58 percent since January 2007.
“New Orleans has become a national leader in the rate at which we’re reducing homelessness,” said Martha Kegel, Executive Director of UNITY. “This apartment building demonstrates the best practices that have led to this success.”
Built as a residence for seniors, the building was damaged by post-Katrina floods and was foreclosed on by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which sold it to the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) for $10. HANO donated the building to UNITY to create housing for homeless and low income residents. Funding and support for the project was provided by the City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, HUD, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and Bank of America.
The state-of-the-art building, designed by HCI Architecture, will feature a computer lab, a multi-purpose room with a serviceable kitchen, a courtyard and an exercise room that overlooks the outside garden. Each apartment comes fully equipped with appliances including washer-dryer and dishwasher.
The building is due to be completed by summer 2013.