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State-Funded McCaleb Apartments Holds Groundbreaking in New Orleans

OCD-DRU Piggyback Program Manager Tommy LaTour (fourth from left) and
Executive Director Pat Forbes (far right) join other officials July 27 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the McCaleb Apartments in New Orleans.

July 27, 2011 

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Representatives from the Louisiana Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit joined with local officials and co-developers Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and Dr. M.W. McCaleb Educational Fund, Inc. in a groundbreaking ceremony today at the McCaleb Supportive Housing Apartments in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans.

McCaleb Supportive Housing is a new-construction apartment complex at 1220 South Robertson Street that will offer 43 one-bedroom units of affordable housing for individuals earning 50 percent of the area median income or less, with 21 of the units designated as Permanent Supportive Housing Units for the homeless.

To help finance the $7.6 million project, the developer used $5.3 million in Community Development Block Grant money from a pool of federal disaster recovery funds administered by the OCD-DRU, which was “piggybacked” onto $430,000 in HOME funds a dministered through the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. The City of New Orleans contributed an additional $700,000 in HOME funding. HOME funds are a Department of Housing and Urban Development program for low-income housing. In addition, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas awarded the project $301,000 through its Affordable Housing Program. 

OCD-DRU Interim Executive Director Pat Forbes said, “The use of disaster recovery funding in the construction of this all-new, 100 percent affordable community in the Central City neighborhood will help provide critically needed workforce housing that will continue our recovery from four devastating hurricanes within three years. Our recovery needs workers and workers need affordable housing.”

Gulf Coast Housing Partnership President Kathy Laborde said, “The cost of safe, healthy housing is out of reach for many low-income workers in New Orleans.  The McCaleb Supportive Housing initiative will address two challenges: providing much needed affordable housing and support services that will help our City’s at-risk population succeed in life, work and community.”

The apartment complex will include community spaces for private counseling offices, a computer room with high-speed Internet access, a kitchen pantry, a multi-purpose room, tenant storage space and secured parking. The project will be built to sustainability and energy efficiency standards as set by Enterprise Green communities.

PSH-designated units are linked to supportive services for vulnerable populations in non-institutional settings, thus reducing emergency room visits and other high-cost health and social service interventions for people with chronic disabilities. Services include case management, life skill development and recreational activities, in addition to referrals for health care and mental health services. The model is a national best practice with cost savings that outweigh the expense of the services.

GCHP is working with the McCaleb Education Fund to develop the project, which will be located on a vacant lot next to the Progressive Baptist Church where the executive director of the fund also serves as pastor. The fund was established by the church in 1988 to meet the social needs of the Central City community.

GCHP is a nonprofit real estate developer established after Hurricane Katrina to build quality affordable housing in the Gulf Coast area.

Louisiana has awarded a total of 68 Piggyback projects in areas of the state most impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008, amounting to more than $614 million. In total, the Piggyback program will create more than 8,300 rental units to help replace housing stock lost in the storms.

The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.