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

Two large former public housing sites in Algiers and the Upper 9th Ward would become mixed-income developments under proposals the Housing Authority of New Orleans is considering.

Also under review are plans to revamp abandoned individual properties Uptown as new homes for sale and rent.

Both proposals are part of HANO’s long-range strategy to avoid a concentration of poverty by turning former housing projects into developments offering both cheaper and market-rate units. 

City officials are also looking to such proposals as another means of solving New Orleans' affordable housing crisis.

The proposals were discussed at a recent meeting of HANO's Development Committee; the committee and the full board are expected to formally consider them within the next month.

"Our mission is that everybody deserves a quality, affordable place to call home," said Evan Holladay of LDG Development Group, one of two firms whose plans are under review by the housing agency. "So we are thankful for this opportunity to partner with HANO." 

LDG, the Kentucky firm behind the Muses apartment complex on Baronne Street, has proposed to build 216 units at a vacant site at Vespasian Boulevard and Murl Street in Algiers, where the Christopher Park Homes once stood.

LDG also proposes building another 312 units within four years on the site of the former Florida housing development in the Upper 9th Ward, near where HANO reopened a few dozen units of public housing three years ago.

Meanwhile, the local Iris Development Group, which has built homes in Bywater, New Orleans East and Gentilly, is proposing to construct 92 units at a dozen different sites.

The LDG development at the Christopher Park site would replace a rent-to-own concept first conceived in 1971 as a way for even the poorest people to realize a piece of the American dream through home ownership. 

But the 150 two-story townhomes built at the site fell victim to decades of neglect by the housing agency, whose name had become synonymous for many with corruption and mismanagement. HANO stopped leasing vacant apartments at the complex several years before Hurricane Katrina, and its federal receiver bought out the remaining property owners in 2011. Demolition of the site began two years later.

The new $43 million development under review would be managed by LDG and would have 202 units for tenants who make no more than 60 percent of area median income, which last year was about $39,000 for a family of four. The other units would rent for the market rate. 

About 91 of the units would have three bedrooms, while 95 would have two bedrooms and 30 would have one bedroom. The site would feature a children's playground and security cameras, Holladay said. 

At the Florida site, Holladay's group would finally complete the overhaul of the barracks-style, 1940s-era three-story buildings that first began in the late 1990s. Work to tear down those buildings and replace them with townhomes and two-family structures was scuttled by Katrina, however, and was not picked up again by HANO until 2013. 

LDG's proposed 298 low-income homes and 14 market-rate units would join the 52 public housing sites HANO manages. LDG would offer at least eight homes for sale, while the entire $62 million project would feature 126 three-bedroom units, 126 two-bedroom units and 32 one-bedroom units.  

The Iris Development Group has done work in New York's Harlem neighborhood and in New Orleans East and Bywater. It proposes to build on a dozen different sites in the Leonidas, Lower Garden District, Irish Channel and West Riverside neighborhoods, for a total cost of $14 million.

Eighteen of the 92 units would be for sale, and 10 of those homes would be sold for about $145,000 apiece, said Curtis Doucette Jr. of Iris. The other 74 would be for rent, and about 50 would go to lower-income people with housing vouchers. 

Doucette, a New Orleans native who said he lived for a short time in the Lafitte housing complex in his youth, said it was "an honor" to ascend from being a HANO resident to a HANO partner, and that he was "thrilled for the opportunity." 

Committee members eventually directed the HANO staff to craft a development agreement with LDG and present the agreement to the committee and full board in February. On Iris, members asked the staff to provide appraisals and other information about each property and report back within a month. 

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA​.