NO Projects


NO Projects attempts to shed light on the state of New Orleans Housing Projects post Katrina, and more importantly since the HOPE VI Program.

Before Katrina there were 7 projects up and running, housing tens of thousands of people. Just ten years prior, there were 9 projects in Orleans Parish alone. Today there is one project still standing in it's original form and in use. All 6 other projects have been demolished in the past five years. Because most of these buildings were built in the old fashioned durable brick barrack style fashion, few of the Uptown projects suffered serious damage from Katrina. Like every building in the city, each had flooding on the first floor, issues with mold, and minor wind damage; but on the whole, the Uptown projects were some of the few buildings to come out of the storm with very little harm. However, the local government claimed that the damage was too great for repairs. As such, six projects were razed, with plans for redevelopment.

This is problematic for two reasons, 1, this left tens of thousands of New Orleans residents completely displaced, forced to live outside the city with Section 8 housing vouchers, unable to retrieve their belongings from government owned property and with no place to go close to home. 2, the plans for redevelopment for all 6 of the demolished projects involved crossing over from public housing to mixed income housing developments. By changing these large structures to a more beautiful neighborhood like mixed income housing development, the contractors immediately erase the majority of the public housing spots. First by creating structures that house fewer units, and then by only allowing a certain number of units to house tenants that are public housing recipients.

This change from public housing projects to mixed income housing developments should be a positive change, as it fosters upward mobility and has been proven to cut back on crime. However, by destroying thousands of people's homes and replacing them with new structures (most of which do not guarantee previous residents a spot) they are kicking people out of their homes and due to the housing shortage, out of New Orleans. Thus, leaving thousands entirely displace and left to fend for themselves with housing vouchers in foreign communities without the aid of family and friends nearby.

The redevelopment public housing projects should guaranteed a 1 to 1 replacement of public housing spots, but that is not the case. This website investigates and shares the numbers of public housing units before and after the storm and the HOPE VI program.


- According to The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), which controls all public housing in the greater metropolitan area, prior to Hurricane Katrina HANO serviced 14,000families (49,000 residents). 5,100 occupied public housing, and 9,000 families received Section 8 vouchers.(1) See for yourself with this link: http://www.hano.org/FAQ.pdf

-On June 27, 2006, a class action law suit was filed by displaced residents of New Orleans public housing to challenge the plan of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to reduce the number of public housing units in the city from 5,100before Hurricane Katrina to only 2,000 units. (2)

-The New Orleans city council voted unanimously on December 20, 2007 to allow HUD to destroy 4,500 units of low-income housing, leaving only 600 public housing units. HUD plans to replace the units with mixed-income housing. The city council voted despite the arguments at the council meeting by residents who said that HUD's plan would not provide enough housing for the 5,100 families that occupied public housing projects before Hurricane Katrina.(3)


So with all those units demolished you have to ask, "Where did all the people go?"

Katrina displaced 700,000 residents, and a year later 360,000 residents were still displaced. According to the American Redcross estimated approximately 275,000 homes were destroyed in Louisiana. (7) It is unclear whether housing projects were even included in that number, considering the fact that most of the projects suffered very minimal damage from the storm. With such extreme housing shortages the price of housing sky rocketed, making even housing destitute housing too expensive for a working class individual, let alone an unemployed resident.

Some of these residents were granted FEMA trailers, but most were not. Those who were fortunate enough to receive a trailer were only granted it for a short period of time and then left to find housing on their own.


With little to no affordable housing available many have to turn to the streets. In 2008 1 in 25 New Orleans residents were homeless. With an estimated 12,000 homeless people and a population of 302,000, homelessness accounts for 4% of the population. The number is double the pre-Katrina homeless count, which was 6,300. (4)

In 2009 the number had only dropped to 11,500. (5)

In 2010, the UNITY collaborative of 63 organizations provided housing and/or services to21,585 homeless persons in New Orleans and Jeffreson Parish, more than double the number of clients served annually prior to Hurricane Katrina. (6)

Many of these people resort to squatting in abandoned houses, left vacant after the storm. These houses are extremely dangerous, filled with mold and toxic debris, some with structures that can give out at any moment.
1. http://www.infocollective.org/NOINfinal.html
2. http://www.gnofairhousing.org/pdfs/11-12-08_RoadHomeLawsuitFactsheet.pdf
3. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/21/us/nationalspecial/21orleans.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin
4. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-16-neworleans-homeless-rate_N.htm
5. http://unitygno.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/3.23.11-Homeless-Update.pdf
6. http://unitygno.org/2011/04/homelessness-in-new-orleans-an-update/

The History of Housing Projects

United States Housing Act

In the depths of the Great Depression, many families became homeless and many others were at risk of homelessness. Nationwide, there was great concern about this situation, which led to the passage of the United States Housing Act of 1937. The Housing Act, also known as the Wagner Bill, instituted the United States Housing Authority within the Department of the Interior. Its mission was to provide public housing for low-income families. The Housing Authority was to contract with local housing officials to construct dwellings. In 1937, New Orleans became the first city in the United States to benefit under the Wagner Act.


The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 was created as a cabinet level agency. The HUD’s mission is to provide a decent, safe, and sanitary home and sustainable living environment for every American by creating opportunities for ownership; providing assistance for low-income persons; working to create, rehabilitate, and maintain the nation’s affordable housing; enforcing the nation’sfair housing laws; helping the homeless; spurring economic growth in distressed neighborhoods; and helping local communities meet their development needs.

Ensuring environmental justice is a priority of HUD’s mission. HUD promotes environmental quality in public housing, federally-assisted rental housing, and homeownership programs to ensure that low-income and minority families and individuals will have safe and healthy start in order to achieve greater self-sufficiency and independence. HUD strives to support sound environmental considerations in community development and housing policies that, at the same time, will preserve housing affordability and encourage rural and urban economic growth and private sector



The HOPE VI Program began in 1992, it was developed as a result of recommendations by National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which was charged with proposing a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing. The Commission recommended revitalization in three general areas: physical improvements, management improvements, and social and community services to address resident needs.

This program was the program that began the change from public housing projects to mixed income housing developments. New Orleans received grants from this program to convert two projects (Desire and St. Thomas) years before the storm. It continued on this path after the storm, receiving grants from this program for all 6 of the projects under redevelopment. Moreover, using the health and safety policies of this program as reason for redevelopment.

Get to Know the Projects


CJ Peete/ Magnolia Projects

The CJ Peete Apartments, also known as the Magnolia Projects was a vertical public housing project, which housed an estimated 2,100 people in 1,403 units prior to the storm. It was the first all black public housing federally funded by the U.S.. The site is bounded by Washington Avenue to the east, LaSalle Street and Freret Street to the south, Louisiana Avenue and Toledano Avenue to the west, and South Claiborne Avenue to the north. (1)

Closed then razed after Katrina, the 1,403-unit 'Nolia is now mostly rebuilt as a mixed-income community known as Harmony Oaks, offering 460 units, only 193 of which are public housing. The remaining 144 are low income and 123 rent at market price, with 50 "Harmony Homes" up for ownership.(6) Which means that 1,210 units of public housing were not replaced.

With an average of 1.5 people per unit before the storm that means 1,815 people are currently displaced due to the redevelopment.

BW Cooper/ Calliope Projects

The 56-acre BW Cooper Apartments (also known as the Calliope Projects) were completed in 1941. The project was funded by the 1937 United States Housing Act, which was inspired by widespread homelessness after the Great Depression.

Located in Central City, it is the third-largest public housing development built in Louisiana.The area is bounded by Earhart Boulevard, South Claiborne Avenue, Martin Luther King Boulevard and S. Dorgenois Street. (1) Although hundreds of units did not take on floodwaters in 2005, of the 1,546 units 1,243 were demolished after the storm. A total of 303 units remain on the site for occupancy.(5)

In the 2000 Census 4,339 people resided in 1,421 units of the BW Cooper Apartments, making it an average of 3 people per unit. There is no information about the statistics from 2005 just before the storm, but the number of residents is estimated to have changed very little within those five years.

Contrary to most other inspections, HANO claimed that"Damage to the housing development as a result of Hurricane Katrina has made the development uninhabitable for residents... Engineering and environmental evaluations of the damages sustained to the housing complex following the hurricane indicate that the extensive nature of the damages do not support repair or renovations to the units. Rather, the damages, and associated costs support the recommendation for demolition and reconstruction of the housing complex."

Redevelopment plans had already been discussed prior to Katrina, due to the HOPE VI act, but it is clear that the local government used the storm as a means to expidite the process of closing projects and redeveloping them into mixed-income housing developments, thereby displacing the vast majority of the low-income population.

The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), Providence Community Housing – the Catholic post-Katrina initiative, and Enterprise Community Partners have formed an alliance to plan the redevelopment of the B.W. Cooper site into a Mixed Income Development.(2)

A Project Named Desire

The Desire Development was built in 1949 in New Orleans' 9th Ward, and compared to the city's other housing projects, was oddly isolated; bordered by railroad tracks on two sides and canals on the others, it was a world of its own, with public elementary and high schools built along with the housing to serve the children who would live there.

The project was plagued almost since its opening by shoddy construction and poor upkeep, and was demolished in 1995, though ground wasn't broken for new buildings until 2002. The new development, renamed Abundance Square and redesigned on the HOPE IV mixed-income model, flooded heavily after Hurricane Katrina while still under construction. Residents finally began moving in in summer 2007.

According to HANO's website for the community the old Desire conventional public housing site, consisting of 1860 units, was demolished before Hurricane Katrina. When the storm struck, Desire was in the process of being developed into a mixed income community of 425 rental and 100 homeownership units. Katrina destroyed 107 newly-constructed rental units that were already occupied as well as 318 rental units being constructed. Since the storm, 107 units have been rebuilt and occupied again and 160 of the 318 units that were under construction have been rebuilt and occupied. The last 160 units are currently under construction, fulfilling the pre-Katrina plan for 425 rental units on the site. (3)

The Estates are being revitalized with a mix of housing types and the infusion of families with mixed incomes throughout the neighborhood. Of the 425 rental housing units, 67% are designated for families served by the public housing assistance program and 33% of the units include tax credit and Project Based Housing Choice Voucher units. (3)

Even when the construction is complete there will only be 425 units, a severe drop off from the original 1860 units. Moreover, only 67% will be public housing units, meaning there will only be 285 units open to those who receive public housing; leaving 1,585 still needing to be replaced.

Florida Projects

Located in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans the Florida was built during World War II. Its first residents began taking occupancy 1946. It's been reported that because of the lower quality of building materials available during wartime, the Florida and adjacent Desire were more poorly built than the other housing projects in New Orleans funded by the federal Wagner Bill of 1937, intended to help families made homeless during the Great Depression. The Florida and Desire have both been reported as two of the worst projects in New Orleans pre-Katrina, with residents often waiting years for HANO to make needed repairs.(1)

The Florida Avenue Development was erected on a sparsely settled 18.5-acre tract of land bounded by Florida Avenue, Dorgenois Street, Congress Street, Law Street and Gallier Street. The area had been considered a squatter’s paradise for years along the tracks at the end of Louisa Street. It originally consisted of 500 dwellings and followed the traditional architectural principles for housing developments. Forty-seven two- and three-story brick apartment buildings are arranged around outdoor spaces used for courtyard, playgrounds, drying yards and parking spaces. They were self contained and at the same time isolated.(4)

In the late 1990s,the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) began a major redevelopment effort at the Florida housing site. Phase I of the plan for redevelopment includes selective demolition of 194 units to reduce crowding, complete overhaul of 77 units and construction of 62 new units. Phase II of the plan includes the complete demolition of 500 units. (4) That means that only 139 units would be left standing. Removing 694 units from the public housing pool.

The Melpomene, AKA the "Melph"

The William J. Guste community is located in New Orleans’ Central City, between the central business district and the renowned historic Garden District. Built in 1964, the original 21-acre site consisted of one 12-story high-rise building with 528 housing units for the elderly and six low-rise buildings with 465 housing units for families, 993 total units. In 2002, the Guste High-Rise underwent comprehensive modernization. In July 2004, HANO demolished three of the six low-rise buildings, leaving only 228 units in the remaining three buildings. These units were to be demolished in subsequent phases of the Guste redevelopment project. (13)

A Master Plan for the Guste site was developed in 2004 that included a site plan with an open street grid, new streets and infrastructure, and 249 units of affordable housing. The plan also included the development of 150 offsite units and a new daycare center. (13)

In January 2005, HANO closed on the first phase of the Guste mixed-financed redevelopment, for the development of 82 low-income housing tax credit units, including 67 ACC and 15 Section 8 project-based units. This phase of construction was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina but was completed in February 2008. (13)

HANO planned to redevelop the balance of the Guste site in two additional phases immediately following the completion of Phase I. Due to the critical need to provide uninterrupted housing to residents post-Katrina, plans for further demolition of the Guste site have been delayed until adequate housing is available for the relocation of the families living in the existing units. Guste II, the next phase of new development, includes 16 new public housing units. (13)

Including the units still under construction there are still only 31 public housing units total, coming from 993 in its' original form, 962 public housing units are yet to be replaced.

St. Bernard Project

The St. Bernard project, located in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, was originally built in 1942, and expanded twice until it became one of the city's largest housing developments, with 1436 units at its peak. Its original boundaries were St. Bernard Avenue to Gibson Street, and Senate to St. Denis Streets.
In 2006, HANO announce it would demolish the city's "Big Four" projects, including the St. Bernard, where 14 buildings had already been approved for demolition pre-Katrina.

During the many protests spurred by the announcement, St. Bernard residents and their supporters were particularly vocal, camping in a tent city outside the shuttered project.

Survivors Village, the tent city created by residents of New Orleans housing projects, called attention to what participants and supporters say are violations of the UN International Policy on Internally Displaced Persons.

In early 2008, wrecking crews began demolishing the development. In April 2010, residents began moving into the 500 units available (157 of these are public housing) in the renamed, mixed-income Columbia Parc apartments.
Before Katrina, the 2000 Census recorded 6,427 people living in 2,020 units in the St. Bernard projects. That is an average of 3 people per unit. Therefore, if there are only 157 public housing units today 1,863 units are still missing and an estimated 5,589 people are displaced.

Iberville Projects

The Iberville project, on the edge of both the French Quarter and Treme neighborhoods in downtown New Orleans, was built on the site of the turn-of-the-century red-light district known as Storyville, where prostitution was legal between 1897 and 1917. Initially intended to house the families of white servicemen, the Iberville was completed in 1940.

Today, the Iberville is the only remaining original full-size housing development left in New Orleans. The 24-acre site is bound by Claiborne Avenue, Basin, Iberville and Conti Streets. According to HANO's page for the development, Iberville originally consisted of 858 units. Due to site reconfigurations, demolition and units being converted to non-residential uses, a total of 836 units existed at the time of Hurricane Katrina. As of July 2010 a total of 821 residential units remained at the site. Currently, about 447 units are occupied due to the renovations effort. Families on the public housing waiting list are being moved into these units, but many are still vacant.(7)
A capital improvements program is in place to improve Iberville. Over $8.8 million has been earmarked for community improvements, with $8 million earmarked from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).(7)

Lafitte Project

The Lafitte project, located in the 6th Ward/Treme area, is one of New Orleans' "Big Four" housing developments, the largest in the city, which were shuttered and slated for demolition after Hurricane Katrina. It was built in 1941 to house black residents, while whites lived in the neighboring Iberville. It housed 896 units. (14)

As of 2010, the original Lafitte has been completely razed; the official groundbreaking for the new Lafitte took place in 2009, though it was stalled until early 2010 by funding issues. According to the Times-Picayune, several former Lafitte residents contributed ideas to the redesign.

Phase I of the Lafitte Redevelopment will include the construction of 812 residential rental units and for-sale homes, 517 of which will be located on the existing site. The homes onsite will include a 100-unit senior apartment building, 276 affordable rental apartments and 141 homes for sale. Many of the for-sale homes will be affordable to families earning 80% or less of area median income. The scattered site program will create an additional 295 rental units and for sale homes in the adjacent communities. The first of these homes, the Edmundites Homes are 10 wood-frame houses originally built in the early 20th century and these homes were completed in January 2009. (8)

The Providence Community Housing Organization claims that they will ensure absolute opportunity for the 865 families and individuals who lived in the Lafitte development before Katrina to return to better quality homes and a healthier neighborhood, however, if the units are renting at market prices, or even affordable rent, they are still out of reach for those who receive public housing.

St. Thomas Project

The St. Thomas project was built in the early 40's in the Irish Channel/ 10th Ward of New Orleans, at the downtown end of the Garden District. Before all of New Orleans' public housing was desegregated in 1964, it was an all-white development. (1) As of the 2000 Census there were still some 2,957 residents in the census tracts associated with the St. Thomas Housing Development. But as of August 30, 2001 1393 units (of the 1,429 that were counted in the 2000 census) were demolished. The St. Thomas was the first local development to be demolished and rebuilt as a mixed-income community under the federal HOPE VI program; all but five buildings, saved for historic purposes, were razed by 2001, and residents relocated to other projects or Section 8 housing.(12)

The St. Thomas project was redeveloped in multiple stages. Construction Site (CS) I rental, the first phase of the St. Thomas Redevelopment Plan, closed in November 2003 and was completed in July 2005. It includes 296 rental units, with 122 public housing units and 174 market rate units that have been successfully leased. River Garden Homeownership includes 15 affordable and 23 market rate homeownership units that were completed in December 2008. Another 35 market rate units will be completed upon market demand. River Garden Historic includes 37 affordable rental units developed by the end of December 2007 in five historic buildings that were preserved on the site. River Garden Elderly includes 57 new project Based Section 8 units also completed in December 2007. Construction Site II, (CS II), the last phase of onsite rental units, includes 310 rental units, of which 60 are ACC units, 64 Tax Credit units and 186 are Market Rate units. These were completed in December 2009.(9)

That makes 1,379 units total, 122 of which are public housing. In contrast to the 1,429 units in St. Thomas back in 2000 leaves 1,307 units that were not replaced during redevelopment.

The BIG Number

When all the stats are added up the number of units missing is astonishing. Because the BW Cooper and Lafitte apartments are still undergoing redevelopment, their numbers are not included in this sum total. The Iberville numbers are also not included because their redevelopment plans are still underway.

The numbers available are 1,210 units missing from Magnolia, 1,585 from Desire, 694 from Florida, 962 from Melpomene, 5,589 from St. Bernard, and 1,379 from St. Thomas. Together that is 11,419 public housing units that have not been replaced, and have no plans for replacement since the HOPE VI Program.

1. wheretheyatnola.com
3. http://www.hano.org/index.php?q=node/34
4. http://www.gnocdc.org/orleans/7/18/snapshot.html
5. http://www.hano.org/index.php?q=node/92
6. http://www.hano.org/index.php?q=node/50
7. http://www.hano.org/index.php?q=node/38
8. http://www.hano.org/index.php?q=node/65
9. http://www.hano.org/index.php?q=node/39
10. http://www.rivergardenneworleans.com/
11. http://harmonyoaksapts.com/
12. http://www.gnocdc.org/orleans/2/59/snapshot.html
13. http://www.hano.org/index.php?q=node/36
14. http://www.gnocdc.org/orleans/4/42/snapshot.html