The former St. Matthias Convent, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, will be converted into a short-term residence for homeless women and children.
Plans are to turn the 8,000-square-foot building at 4222 S. Broad St. into Hotel Hope, a temporary shelter with 40 beds, showers, a laundry room and computer center. Meals will be provided at the shelter, along with resources such as job counseling, life-skills training and mental health screening. Hotel Hope is set to open in late 2015 or early 2016.
A $100,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from First NBC Bank of New Orleans and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas will help cover part of the $1 million cost of renovations. Private donations are covering the rest of the costs.
The Broadmoor convent, built in 1960, had been used to house the Dominican nuns who staffed St. Matthias School (now Blessed Trinity Catholic Church). But the building took on 8 feet of water during Katrina.
Sister Mary Lou Specha, executive director of Hotel Hope, said more beds are needed in New Orleans to house single mothers and their children. “By my count, there may be less than 40 emergency beds in the whole city available for homeless women with children,” Specha said. “But the need could be as high as 250 in one night.”
Specha said the AHP grant has helped her organization attract more private funds for the shelter. “It has been a tremendous help,” she said.