Kenner has inched closer to one day building a new, $844,000 home for the Hispanic Resource Center, which — despite its name — provides help to people of all ethnicities who need assistance buying homes or learning English, among other things.
The Kenner City Council on Thursday approved a resolution to allocate $263,500 gained through the sale of city-owned property toward the construction of a new Hispanic Resource Center on 39th Street, on land behind a fire station at 1919 40th St.
That money is in addition to $245,000 that the council has intermittently allocated toward the project during the past 13 years, leaving the city about $336,000 short of being able to erect the building, officials said.
Four of the five council members voting Thursday night supported the funding resolution: Keith Reynaud, whose district includes the site; Brian Brennan; Dominick Impastato;and Maria DeFrancesch.
Gregory Carroll abstained, saying he generally favors the idea but was not convinced the city can find the remaining money it needs.
In response, Chief Administrative Officer Mike Quigley said possible funding sources for the remaining balance include the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, more pending city property sales and unbudgeted fees from permits issued for the construction of a new terminal at Louis Armstrong International Airport.
Carroll’s colleagues said the allocation was urgent because the side-by-side trailers out of which the Hispanic Resource Center has operated since it opened in 2003 at 4312 Florida Ave. are in deplorable condition.
“The floors are weak. I’m waiting every day to hear somebody slipped through the floor,” Reynaud said.
DeFrancesch said one reason the center needs to move into an adequate facility is that it offers Spanish lessons to Kenner’s police officers, who patrol a city with almost 15,000 Hispanic residents, according to U.S. census estimates.
“There are resources there to help police be more effective working in the community,” DeFrancesch said.
Aside from first-time homebuyer training as well as Spanish and English lessons, the resource center helps residents with civil legal problems, immunizations and obtaining food stamps.
The new building is being designed by Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects, said Arleeta Terrell, Kenner’s community development director.