HUD No. 07-183
December 13, 2007
HUD OUTLINES CONSEQUENCES IF DEMOLITION OF LAFITTE IS NOT APPROVED
Jackson to Nagin: Mayor must reverse decision of Conservation District
WASHINGTON - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today sent a letter to New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin explaining the future of affordable housing in New Orleans would be severely impacted if the Mayor does not overturn the Historic Conservation District Review Committee's (HCDRC) rejection of a plan to redevelop the Lafitte housing project.
Approximately three years before Hurricane Katrina, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), which was taken over by the federal government due to gross property mismanagement, embarked on an ambitious redevelopment program for its nine major complexes. Five of those redevelopments are complete or near completion (St. Thomas, Guste, Abundance Square (formerly Desire), Fischer and Florida). The remaining "Big Four" (B.W. Cooper and C.J. Peete, Lafitte and St. Bernard) were in the planning stages for redevelopment when Katrina struck.
Overall, HANO's plan is to demolish 4,500 public housing units and to replace them with 5,108 affordable rental homes, a net increase of 608 units. These affordable homes will include 3,343 public housing units and 1,765 units voucher-holding families can rent. In addition, there will be 900 market-rate rental units and 900 market-rate and affordable homes for sale. HANO is building more affordable housing than was occupied pre-Katrina.
This week, HANO requested demolition approval from the HCRDC for three properties - Cooper, Peete and Lafitte (St. Bernard is not in an historic district). Lafitte was the only one of the three not approved, and the Committee gave no reason for the disapproval. HANO is appealing the committee's decision to the Mayor.
In a letter to the Mayor, Jackson outlined three principle reasons that it is imperative to allow redevelopment of Lafitte to move forward. These reasons include:
- The loss of approximately $137 million in funds specifically to create affordable housing;
- The loss of nearly 900 vouchers for Lafitte tenants requiring them to make their own rent payments; and
- The loss of the 94 units of rehabilitated affordable housing previously agreed to as part of phased redevelopment.