HANO Groundbreaking at C.J. Peete
REMARKS PREPARED FOR
STEVE PRESTON, SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
NEW ORLEANS, LA
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2009
Thank you. I am pleased to join Mayor (Ray) Nagin and all of our public and private partners involved in this historic groundbreaking. Less than 30 days ago, we broke ground on the St. Bernard complex. Today's ground breaking marks another important milestone in the restoration of New Orleans.
With shovels in hand, we turn the earth and, in this New Year, turn the page. Three years ago, nature showed her full fury. We answered with the determination to rebuild, created a vision about how to rebuild, and started a process that will allow new affordable housing to rise up.
With this groundbreaking we again demonstrate our steadfast commitment to New Orleans.
We made a commitment to build new housing that allows families to escape concentrated poverty and have the opportunity to live in a more empowering, positive environment.
As you know, when HUD took over the housing authority in 2002, it began an ambitious plan to redevelop the city's public housing communities. We envisioned communities that were inclusive, better and safer than before. If you look at the new Fischer or the new Abundance Square communities, the new housing does not isolate or concentrate low-income families like the old buildings did. They create new, vibrant communities, places of respect, hope, inspiration, and safety.
So here is what will happen next. C.J. Peete will be redeveloped in two phases. This first phase will bring 460 homes in two and three-story buildings to the original site.
There will be:
- 193 public housing units;
- 144 tax credit units that can be rented using rental assistance vouchers; and
- 123 market rate rental units.
The second phase will bring 50 single-family affordable and market rate homes that will be constructed in other areas of Central City. When the new community is completed in 2010, there will be 510 housing opportunities. Redevelopment plans also include a new state-of-the art elementary and middle school, a 25,000 square-foot YMCA with a gymnasium, and a health clinic.
I know this redevelopment process hasn't been easy. Even in a good economic environment, these kinds of complex financing structures are difficult to get done. So given the economic climate we are in now, the fact that we are on track with this development is a credit to all the people who are involved. From the beginning, we have needed strong Federal, state, and local partners and a solid team of investors and developers. I believe we have that now with this groundbreaking.
This past year has also been a particular trial for the housing market. On top of the long-term disaster recovery you're undertaking, Louisiana is also dealing with rising foreclosures. To help you meet this particular challenge, today, I am approving plans for the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans to begin targeting a total of $36.5 million to certain neighborhoods to purchase and redevelop foreclosed properties. Instead of homes becoming abandoned, these funds - provided through HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program - will work to put families back into these houses, eliminate potential sources of blight, and reintegrate home into their neighborhoods.
Our commitment to New Orleans remains steadfast. And today's groundbreaking is a major step forward to make affordable housing available to those who need it. Progress will continue. I expect that we will break ground at the Lafitte development next month. And HANO has approved infrastructure improvements to start at the BW Cooper site, which is a critical step before breaking ground.
Years from now, there will be photographs of today, pictures of people with shovels and of a vista that will be changed day-after-day as the buildings are constructed. The physical change will be well-documented. But I hope history captures the spirit and resolve of those involved. Because this housing development is an act of will.
For me, the redevelopment of public housing in New Orleans has been a departmental priority and a personal mission. Seven months ago, when I arrived at HUD, I came to New Orleans. It was my first trip as Secretary. And two and a half years ago, I visited the Gulf Coast during my first trip as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast has been the focus of much of my work. Now, in my last weeks as Secretary, it is good to be here again with so many of you who have been friends and partners in our rebuilding efforts.
I hope that the sense of commitment shows how much thought went into the way we redeveloped public housing.
I want people who need affordable housing to have it, and to have housing that will be drug-free, crime-free, a good place to live, even an inspiring place to live. We want to create communities, places that people are proud of, good places to raise a family and grow old together.
I want to thank the Mayor, City Council, the Housing Authority of New Orleans and all of those who made this day possible.