Letter to the editor: Public investment in O.C. Haley Boulevard is getting results

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(graphic via New Orleans Redevelopment Authority)

(graphic via New Orleans Redevelopment Authority)

By Mary Beth Romig

In response to the recent opinion from Owen Courreges in the October 19, 2015 issue of Uptown Messenger, I would like the opportunity to share good news about what the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) has accomplished in terms of commercial revitalization and affordable housing, specifically in the two neighborhoods Courreges mentions.

First, with regards to Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, NORA has invested more than $8 million in support of commercial revitalization. Among them, the once dilapidated Myrtle Banks School is now home to several non-profit organizations. We have invested in both the internal renovation and external restoration of the New Orleans Mission, so that the Mission can better serve the city’s homeless population. Other non-profits we have invested in on the Boulevard include Good Work Network which provides business development services to minority and women-owned businesses and Café Reconcile which provides life skills and job training program to improve the lives of our city’s at-risk youth. Through NORA’s Façade Renew Program, we have invested in 15 projects to date, among them 10 existing/long standing businesses/entities, seven of which are non-profits providing vital housing, counseling, heath care, education and youth engagement/training services.

In addition to our commercial investments, NORA has invested in the construction of 154 affordable housing units (rental, sold homes and permanent supportive housing for former homeless) in the Central City neighborhood near the Oretha Castle Haley corridor in partnership with Harmony Neighborhood Development and Jericho Road, and most recently acted as our own developer in the construction of five affordable housing units on S. Saratoga Street. These homes are part of the 463 affordable housing units constructed with the funds ($29.7 million) awarded to NORA directly from HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) in 2010. Our NSP2 investment in the King Rampart building located just around the corner on Martin Luther King Blvd has 70 affordable apartments for senior citizens 55 and older. NORA serves as the anchor tenant for The Harrell Building, which is also home to the CeaseFire.

Courreges also references our inclusion of the Broad Refresh Project building on NORA’s website. We are proud of our investment in Broad Community Connections, which led the development of the Broad Refresh Project. Not only is the once-abandoned Schwegmann’s building on Broad Street now a Whole Foods Market featuring their 365 product line (a successful model for the corporation nationwide), it is also home to non-profits including Liberty’s Kitchen, which offers culinary training and job opportunities to at-risk youth. Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is also housed in that location, where medical students are learning how to advise patients from all walks of life on the importance of good nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

NORA’s investments extend beyond these two neighborhoods, as we continue our mission to bring vacant properties back to life and bring life to our entire community. I encourage Mr. Courreges to learn more about NORA’s accomplishments before he offers criticism of the agency’s work.

Mary Beth Romig is Director of Communications for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, headquartered on O.C. Haley Boulevard.

5 thoughts on “Letter to the editor: Public investment in O.C. Haley Boulevard is getting results

  1. How does havng a lot of nonprofits on OCH drive economic development?

    How many of the nonprofits on OCH are funded exclusively with private money versus nonprofits funded with public money?

    Based on the nature of the occupancy, OCH would collapse tomorrow if it weren’t being funded by the local, state and/or federal government. That isn’t economic development.

  2. Landfill trash aside, I like Garland’s “Demidont’s vs. Republicant’s” with O. C”ourres Haley right- Mary Beth NORA left, and Central City?
    Most of OC’s logic on OCH is spot on- and
    SoDoSoPa, http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s19e03-the-city-part-of-town is scary funny TRUE!!!
    but it’s easy to complain…
    MB is a Saint, with many trying solutions.
    But with Irwin Mayfield?…
    Jane Jacobs said it best-
    “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
    The Death and Life of Great American Cities

    So to both- please keep it up, but lets look for solutions with a hand up, not a hand out, and take the profit out of poverty.
    Best from 5110 Freret,
    Andy Brott

  3. Success? All I see are public funds spent to perpetuate the failed programs of the past. If you want to change the area then you need to stop the crime. Use stop and frisk. Drug test all tenants in affordable housing. Mandate hours of work for welfare money.

    As long as you continue to give away public assistance like Halloween candy there will be no rejuvenation. If you want to see change then stop using taxpayer dollars as the carrot and start using it as the stick.

  4. Mary Beth Romig:

    Oretha Castle Haley Shooting: Man shot multiple times in Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard and Terpsichore Street

    As long as you have that Homeless shelter attracting all those Homeless Drug Addicts who don’t want to follow the rules of the homeless shelter because they are so drug addicted, you will always have crime problems.

    The problem is that Orleans Parish has redevelopment policy of using “carrots” instead “sticks”. Hence, why should these Homeless change their behavior if all you do is keep giving them free carrots for their addictive behavior? e.g. free/affordable housing, free food, free health services with no long term strings attached as these Homeless jump from shelter to shelter as they keep breaking the rules of the shelter they are currently in. Kind of like panhandling and continually finding a new person to give them money on the street with their “out-of-luck” story.

  5. Mary Beth,

    Do you see businesses, besides defense attorneys and bail bonds companies or rehab non-profits, lining up to set up shop next to a jail or prison anywhere in America? If not, why do you think anyone, besides another non-profit, wants to setup shop next to a homeless shelter?

    Moreover, have you ever heard of the term, “concentrating poverty”? Well isn’t OC Haley a example of concentrating poverty? That is, the down and out, chronic drug addicts and alcoholics all “hanging” in and around the many OC Haley Non-Profits, 24/7, giving each other tips on where to get the latest free stuff so they can sell for drug and beer money.

    Lastly, I have also noticed that no matter what type of “affordable housing”, mixed housing, or Urban Planning and pretty trees and sidewalks and even lighting the City of New Orleans builds, those new redevelopments and urban planning projects will not change the behavior of those “tenants” being drug addicts, mentally ill, alcoholics as all they do is hang outside still doing drugs and constantly visiting the closest liquor store. Putting the Homeless in a really nice building with lots of facilities doesn’t make the addictions go away. Millions of dollars in the New Orleans Mission will not break the drug addictions of those Homeless….(Only physical separation of the drugs & alcohol from the homeless will do that.)

    Urban Planning does not make Drug Addiction/Alcoholism go away.
    Affordable Housing does not make Drug Addiction/Alcoholism go away.

    “More and more Carrots” does not make Drug Addiction/Alcoholism go away.

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