The Housing Authority of New Orleans has received a $2.3 million federal grant to help public housing residents find and keep better-paying jobs.
HANO is one of seven public housing authorities across the U.S. that will split $14 million in grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the Jobs Plus Initiative.
The money will be combined with roughly $2.7 million from HANO and its local partners, for a total investment of $5 million.
It will be used to link residents of Bienville Basin and Faubourg Lafitte — the former Iberville and Lafitte public housing projects, respectively — to job placement and adult education.
The federal government is “walking the walk and showing proof of their confidence in HANO with $2.3 million that will help connect our people with new job opportunities,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. “It’s a clear indication of the progress made and the momentum we intend to build on.”
Public housing residents traditionally received government subsidies to live in large government-owned buildings, though that model was turned on its head after the demolition of the city's longtime public housing complexes before and especially after Hurricane Katrina.
Taking its place was a new “mixed-income” strategy that puts low-income residents alongside residents paying market-rate rents in developments managed by private contractors.
The latest HUD grant will help more than 200 unemployed or underemployed people in the privately managed Basin and Lafitte communities.
HANO's longtime partners — including the United Way, Operation Spark and the Youth Empowerment Project — will help encourage self-sufficiency among the residents through job training, credit counseling, money management training and other tools, officials said.
The grant "will give us an opportunity to enhance existing programs and develop additional programs... (to help) more of our residents gain economic sustainability," HANO Executive Director Gregg Fortner said.