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Affordable housing advocates filled the New Orleans City Council chambers in December 2018. 

Properties in Algiers, the Upper 9th Ward and Uptown will be turned into mixed-income housing under proposals recently approved by the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

The agency's board last week endorsed the planned revamps of the former Christopher Park Homes on Vespasian Boulevard and Murl Street in Algiers, and the last piece of the rehabilitation of the former Florida housing project in the Upper 9th Ward.

Also approved was the redevelopment of an array of individual properties Uptown.

Altogether, more than 600 units of housing will be created, with 90 percent of them designated for residents unable to afford market-rate housing. 

The plans are part of HANO’s ongoing strategy to break up concentrated areas of poverty by turning former public housing complexes into developments that offer market-rate units as well as low-income housing.

City officials have touted such plans as a means of addressing New Orleans' shortage of affordable housing, although critics say that the number of units dedicated to low-income residents under existing housing plans has either been realized too slowly or has not kept up with the need. 

The shortage has come about as average rents and home values have increased by about 50 percent in the city in the past 15 years, when adjusted for inflation, while median income, also adjusted for inflation, has fallen by 15 percent since 2000, according to the group Housing NOLA, which released a report four years ago assessing the issue. 

LDG, a Kentucky firm, finished the Muses apartment complex on Baronne Street, its only project in New Orleans, about nine years ago. This time around, it will build 312 units at Florida and 216 units at Christopher Park.

A second developer, the local Iris Development Group, will build 98 units on 17 properties in the Lower Garden District, Irish Channel, West Riverside and Leonidas neighborhoods of Uptown.

At Christopher Park, the project would aim to resurrect a development first envisioned in the early 1970s as a way to give low-income people the chance to own their own homes.

Over the decades, however, the 150 two-story townhomes at the site were neglected by the housing agency. HANO stopped leasing available homes there years before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, and demolition of the remaining blighted properties at the site began in 2013.

Under its agreement with HANO, LDG will, by 2023 at the latest, build 216 units on the now-vacant site a few blocks off Gen. de Gaulle Drive near the Orleans Parish School Board building in Algiers, reserving 152 of those units at reduced rents for households that earn up to 80 percent of the area's median income.

Area median income in New Orleans last year for a family of four was $65,600; about 80 percent of that is $52,500.

Another 54 of the units will be set aside for residents who receive HANO vouchers. The remaining 10 units will be rented out at market rates.

At the Florida site, LDG plans to complete a rehab of the 1940s-era buildings that began more than two decades ago. That work was stalled by Katrina and was not revived until 2013. HANO now operates about 52 public housing units at the site.

LDG will build 312 new units. It will make 224 of them available at reduced rates to residents who earn up to 80 percent of the area's median income, offer 78 at reduced rates to residents who receive HANO vouchers and rent 10 at market rates to residents who don’t get any kind of subsidy.

The developers also will sell at least eight homes as part of the $62 million project.

Meanwhile, of the 98 units planned by Iris Development, eight will be available for sale at market rates, while 10 will sell at roughly $145,000 apiece.

The firm will rent 24 units at market rates and offer 56 other rentals to HANO clients who receive vouchers.

Those units will be scattered across 17 properties in various neighborhoods. Developer Curtis Doucette said last month that he anticipated the projects would be completed in two to three years.

See the full list of properties, below: 

The board approved LDG’s two proposals unanimously, while four of the six members present approved the Iris proposal.


Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA​.