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Aug. 19, 2013

Affordable Public Housing Breaks Ground at Katrina-Marred Site

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

This week marked the start of yet another project that will erase some of the damage left behind by Hurricane Katrina. The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Florida Community, along with city, state and FEMA officials, as well as former residents of the housing project.

Located at the corner of Congress and Law streets, the affordable public housing project will comprise 51 affordable-housing units distributed among 26 duplex structures. One-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will make up the community and will feature Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient storm windows and insulated doors. Apartments will be pre-wired for cable and Wi-Fi, and a management office will be located on the site. Nine units are earmarked for hearing and visually impaired and handicapped residents.

“Not only does this promote environmental sustainability but it also reduces utility costs, promoting fiscal sustainability for the families,” declared Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell in regards to the environmentally friendly features to be included in the project.

Parkcrest Builders L.L.C. has been chosen as the general contractor for the $14 million rebuilding project. Funding has been secured from multiple sources, including $6.6 million provided by FEMA and the outstanding balance from HANO’s Capital Fund Program.

The Florida community is set to be complete by summer 2014 and is expected to accelerate the revitalization of the area. “We are proud to contribute public assistance dollars to support a project that will provide affordable homes for the residents of this community. … As projects like these move forward, New Orleans families continue on their path toward recovery,” declared FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office Executive Director Mike Womack.

The Florida Community has been a long time in coming. Originally built in 1946 as a 734-unit public housing development, the community degraded in time to the point that it became unlivable. HANO demolished it in 2001, starting a $23 million redevelopment project that delivered the first 127 units in 2004 and were immediately occupied. However, Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to the property, and all further redevelopment plans were halted.  Currently, the foundations from 77 townhome units and 25 duplex units from the early 2000s redevelopment efforts are still visible (see image). HANO plans to remove them by the end of the year.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

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