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HUD HEADQUARTERS RELOCATES TO NEW ORLEANS FOR A DAY AS CUOMO ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP TO HELP REVITALIZE CITYNEW ORLEANS -- Secretary Andrew Cuomo and top aides relocated U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters to New Orleans for a day today "to strengthen HUD's successful partnership with New Orleans and to learn first-hand how to help revitalize the city," Cuomo said.
Cuomo joined Mayor Marc H. Morial, Senator John Breaux, Senator Mary L. Landrieu, and Congressman William Jefferson at events around the city.
"New Orleans is an urban treasure with a proud past and a promising future," Cuomo said. "I've brought the top leadership of HUD here because we want to work with New Orleans to bring a new prosperity to this city and all its people. To succeed, we have to understand New Orleans and its needs, and the best way to do that is to walk through the city's neighborhoods, see the challenges it faces, and talk with its people and leaders."
Cuomo announced that he has approved a one-year extension of a cooperative agreement between HUD and New Orleans to continue the partnership that is leading to improved living conditions for public housing residents in the city.
The partnership agreement would have expired on Dec. 31 without the extension. New Orleans sought the extension to continue the progress that has been made in improving public housing in the city.
Cuomo also announced a new $700,000 grant under the Youthbuild program to the Mirabeau Family Learning Center. The grant will train 35 young high school dropouts in construction skills as they build four new single-family homes. The homes will be sold to low-income families at cost and with no-interest loans.
"This program helps young people build good careers for themselves while they build good housing for families in need," Cuomo said. "With the construction skills they learn in Youthbuild, young people can support themselves for a lifetime."
Cuomo also announced new action to allow increased home construction on flood plains, congratulated the city on the groundbreaking for a new homeless housing facility, announced new action against housing discrimination, and presented grants for elderly housing and drug elimination programs. (DETAILS BELOW).
Welcoming Cuomo to New Orleans, Mayor Morial said: "The new HUD is government in its best role, government that encourages and enhances private business to make investors of people otherwise left out, to stake a claim in our future. Today, HUD is using its resources to initiate total urban renewal by pooling together federal dollars with resources from community development corporations."
Senator Breaux said: "I commend Secretary Cuomo for coming to New Orleans to learn first-hand what HUD's partnership with the city has done to help revitalize this great city. The many joint ventures have included programs to help eliminate drugs among youths, encourage more officers to live in distressed neighborhoods, reduce housing discrimination and protect consumers against mortgage fraud and abuse."
Senator Landrieu, who is the daughter of former HUD Secretary Moon Landrieu, said: "I grew up understanding the importance of the partnership between Washington, D.C. and New Orleans for public housing and urban development. Secretary Cuomo's visit shows his commitment to helping our citizens meet the most basic of needs, a safe, affordable place to live and raise a family."
Congressman Jefferson said: "Through the Housing Authority of New Orleans, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has a direct and longstanding commitment to providing safe, decent and affordable housing in the City of New Orleans. Today's visit clearly demonstrates that the Clinton Administration and Secretary Cuomo are determined to work hand-in-hand with local officials to understand and develop a public housing policy that meets the needs of our community. The drug elimination grants, programs for affordable housing for the elderly and homeless, and countless other programs announced today reinforce the federal government's partnership with New Orleans."
Cuomo and other HUD officials began their day with an opening roundtable at the University of New Orleans with elected officials and members of the community. The Secretary then joined Archbishop Philip Hannan for a tour of Malta Square at Sacred Heart, a senior citizen housing development assisted by HUD and sponsored by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Will Woods Foundation.
Later events on Cuomo's schedule included a speech to the Golden Hammer Luncheon of community leaders, a meeting with elected officials and a closing roundtable.
The visit to New Orleans was the sixth in a series of such trips Cuomo and the top leadership of HUD are making to cities around the country.
HUD officials traveling to New Orleans with Cuomo included: Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner Nicolas Retsinas; Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Saul Ramirez; Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Eva Plaza; Acting Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Kevin Marchman; Secretary's Representative Elizabeth Julian; and Counselor Robert Hickmott.
The HUD officials traveling with Cuomo planned to join him and elected officials at two roundtable discussions at the beginning and end of the day. The HUD Team split up during the rest of the day, as the Cuomo aides visited housing, businesses, and other locations around New Orleans with their local counterparts.
Here are details of other actions by Cuomo in New Orleans:
Cuomo granted a special waiver to HUD's New Orleans office to approve Federal Housing Administration loans on a case-by-case basis for homes built on flood plains in the city. The decision, which returns to a previous policy, could lead to increased home construction in New Orleans. Currently, there is a blanket prohibition on using FHA-insured loans for new homes built on flood plains.
OFFICER NEXT DOOR
Cuomo announced that five more New Orleans area police officers have purchased homes under HUD's Officer Next Door initiative. They are: Mark Wilson, Treece Johnson, Cary Dupart, David Tregre and Rodney McWilliams. The anti-crime and community revitalization initiative, which was announced by President Clinton in August, enables police officers to buy homes owned by HUD at a 50 percent discount -- saving them tens of thousands of dollars. A total of 22 New Orleans area police officers have now signed up for the program. Assistant Secretary Retsinas met with the five new officers participating in the program today and presented them with certificates commending them for their dedication to community policing.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held today for the Freeport-Unity for the Homeless Project, which is being funded with a $3 million grant approved earlier by HUD. The project will transform a vacant 24,000-square-foot elementary school at First and Baronne Street into a transitional housing facility for homeless women and children. First Commerce Community Development Corp. will work in partnership with Freeport-Unity in developing the project. Associated Catholic Charities will operate the housing program at the site for 25 women with children, and Lindy's Place will operate housing at the site for 40 single women.
The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors signed an agreement with HUD today to work in partnership with the Department to promote fair housing and equal opportunity practices among their members. The Louisiana Fair Housing Organization was recently awarded a $350,000 grant by HUD to help reduce housing discrimination.
Cuomo presented a $2.8 million grant approved earlier to the Greater St. Stephens Ministries, under HUD's Section 202 elderly housing program. St. Stephens Ministries will use the funds to convert an old warehouse into 42 one-bedroom apartments in New Orleans for senior citizens with very low incomes and to provide rent subsidies for five years.
Cuomo presented the Housing Authority of New Orleans with $3.4 million in recently approved drug elimination grants to fund programs to reduce crime and drug abuse and presented another $125,000 to privately owned low-income apartments under the same program.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009