Greater New Orleans Foundation Invests in Creative Housing Solutions

August 1, 2012

New Orleans, LA – The Greater New Orleans Foundation is investing in two local nonprofit organizations providing housing for New Orleans’ most vulnerable residents while a third grant is strengthening the profession of urban planning.

“At the Foundation we’re constantly researching innovative ways to invest our philanthropic dollars in projects that will have an impact,” said Ellen Lee, senior vice president of programs and leading housing expert who serves on the boards of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the governor-appointed Louisiana Housing Corporation. “For example, the Foundation created a partnership with city agencies and others that resulted in revamping the city’s code enforcement process. It only takes three to six months to remediate or demolish problem properties instead of the one year to 18 months it took previously,” said Lee. “It’s going to take philanthropic dollars and public dollars to meet the Mayor’s goal of reducing blight by 10,000 properties by 2014.”

“These latest rounds of grants are further examples of our strategic grantmaking,” said Lee. In addition to providing critical resources the Foundation adds value by lending their staff expertise and networking capabilities. “We bring a lot of general know-how to the table because we’ve been investing in housing solutions for the past five years,” said Lee, referring to the Community Revitalization Fund that has granted almost $20 million to 49 organizations resulting in homes for 9,500 families. The latest round of grants follow:

A grant of $200,000 was given to M.W. McCaleb Education Fund to repurpose a once abandoned hotel in Central City into a 43-unit housing development for homeless and underemployed individuals. “We’re taking an empty building that was used as a drug haven and turning it into a residence. Additionally, residents will have access to counseling and employment training,” said Isabel Barrios, program associate at the Greater New Orleans Foundation.  According to UNITY, there are at least 6,000 homeless people in New Orleans with the greatest number living in Central City. “Decent housing is not the end to homelessness,” said Barrios. “You have to invest in the counseling as well.”

A grant of $100,000 was given to help transform the Andrew Bell School Campus (pictured above) in the Treme neighborhood into Artspace, a multi-faceted arts complex that will give 73 artists a place to live and work. Based on a national model that has been successful in other cities such as Seattle and Portland, Artspace facilities are designed as a community where artists and their families can thrive. “Artists contribute enormously to making New Orleans the culturally vibrant place it is, yet often they suffer from incredible economic hardships,” said Barrios.  “Having your home and your studio in one place will save artists money because they won’t have to rent two places and commute between the two.”

A grant of $175,000 was given to the University of New Orleans Department of Planning and Urban Studies to enhance their graduate program in planning. UNO’s graduate urban planning department is the only one of its kind in the state of Louisiana. Specifically, the grant will fund the development of a Community Development Finance Curriculum (CDF) certificate program. “We need our future leaders in urban planning and community development to be competent in finance, planning, and policy in order to continue to tackle the complexities we face in our community,” said Barrios.


About the Greater New Orleans Foundation
The Greater New Orleans Foundation is the community foundation serving the 13-parish Greater New Orleans region. We design and lead initiatives that improve the region, connect donors to community needs, identify and support great nonprofits, and strengthen civil society.