The Times-Picayune: Agency for Homeless Seeks Neighbors’ Support: A Letter to the Editor

Published: Sunday, December 26, 2010, 1:22 AM

By Letters to the Editor

Misunderstanding persists about the Esplanade Avenue building that UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a nonprofit organization, and our partners are seeking to revitalize.

We plan to transform the former Bethany nursing home, abandoned since Hurricane Katrina, into apartments for low-wage workers and formerly homeless people with disabilities. Tenants with disabilities will benefit from on-site supportive services, and the neighborhood will benefit from a well-lit, well-maintained building with 24/7 security.

The need for high-quality affordable housing is great in a city where fair market rents are 45 percent higher than before Katrina, there is a plethora of low-wage jobs and homelessness is nearly double what it was pre-storm.

Why are we seeking to revitalize this particular building in this particular neighborhood? Because the former owners of the nursing home contacted UNITY in 2008, while we were re-housing hundreds of people from homeless camps, and asked us to acquire the building to help meet the need for housing. HUD provided the building at low cost to house the homeless.

We recognize the importance of integrating the poor and vulnerable throughout the city. The five properties we are planning to develop into mixed-income apartment buildings are located in five different, diverse neighborhoods.

We are committed to re-housing and stabilizing vulnerable people who have no place to live by using proven best practices. We are equally committed to doing everything possible to be good neighbors and help improve neighborhoods. We ask for the community’s support as we work together to end homelessness and rebuild a safe, equitable and inclusive New Orleans.

Chandra Crawford
Public Policy Director
UNITY of Greater New Orleans

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