New Orleans Awarded Over $141 Million From HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition

NEW ORLEANS – January 27, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Mayor Mitch Landrieu was joined by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and City, State and Federal officials to celebrate the City of New Orleans award of $141.3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC). HUD’s competition is designed to help state and local communities recover from past disasters while improving their ability to withstand future extreme events through strategic community investments.

New Orleans is one of only 13 jurisdictions out of 67 eligible applicants to be awarded funding from NDRC and the award is the second largest nationally.

New Orleans’ winning proposal – Reshaping the Urban Delta – calls for the creation of the city’s first comprehensive resilience district in Gentilly with projects that invest in innovative and creative solutions so that the people, culture and infrastructure can thrive. A focus on Gentilly presents opportunities to leverage existing projects, to reduce flood risk and to support the area’s recovery and revitalization.

“New Orleans is our nation’s most immediate laboratory for innovation and change and this award demonstrates that we are a world leader in building a better, stronger and more resilient community,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This National Disaster Resilience Competition award will provide a transformative opportunity for even more investments in infrastructure that will yield vibrant and equitable communities. I want to thank HUD for recognizing New Orleans’ potential as a model for global resilience and our partners with 100 Resilient Cities and the Rockefeller Foundation for their partnership in helping our city achieve this success.”

HUD Regional Administrator Tammye Treviño said, “Climate change is real and we must think more seriously about how to plan for it. The grants awarded in Louisiana today, along with the other sources of capital the grants will leverage, will make communities stronger and better prepared for future natural disasters.”

Jeff Hebert, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of New Orleans, said, “After launching the City’s resilience strategy last summer, we began implementation immediately. This award marks a significant milestone of the resilience strategy, as we continue to deliver on the promise we made to the residents in shaping the future New Orleans for the next generation. HUD funding will support several integrated initiatives that include workforce development and creating parks and green streets that will turn the Gentilly neighborhood into a national model for retrofitting post-war suburban neighborhoods into resilient, safe and equitable communities of opportunity. This major investment will foster transformative change throughout the entire community.”

Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities, said, “This award is proof positive that if a city acts on resilience principles, it will start seeing major dividends. Over the last several years, New Orleans has been a leader – worldwide – in the practice of resilience, and the city is now seeing the market start to respond. This award is just the beginning – as the city starts acting on its strategy and continuing to build its resilience, it will surely see even more resources come in. The investments will come from all levels of governments, philanthropic entities, and private sector actors who want to work in resilient places. By being an innovative leader and having a unifying resilience vision for New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu is not only securing unprecedented resources for his city, but is making it a better and safer place to live in both good times and bad.”

In August 2015, the City of New Orleans unveiled its first-ever comprehensive resilience strategy called Resilient New Orleans – a concrete, strategic roadmap for the City of New Orleans to build urban resilience. The strategy, a joint effort between the City and 100 Resilient Cities – pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, proposes 41 actions to build citywide resilience that support three guiding visions for the city’s future: Adapt to Thrive, Connect to Opportunity and Transform City Systems. The strategy will help New Orleans become a more equitable, adaptable and prosperous place for all of its residents as the City approaches its tricentennial in 2018. Resilient New Orleans includes such items as the establishment of personal emergency savings accounts, the development of a comprehensive storm water management program, and establishing one of the world’s few resilience centers, located right here in New Orleans. The City’s NDRC proposal is an important step in implementing the visions and actions outlined in the resilience strategy.

Supporting the vision of Adapt to Thrive, the City’s application proposed projects inspired by the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan and its principle of “living with water.” These projects are designed to reduce risk from flooding and subsidence by creating spaces to capture rainwater in the urban landscape. They are designed to beautify neighborhoods, improve health and provide opportunities for recreation. The City’s proposal also includes a program to help low-income homeowners make improvements to their own properties that capture rainwater, such as the installation of rain gardens and porous pavement.

Supporting the vision of Connect to Opportunity, the City will incentivize the hiring and training of unemployed individuals to build projects funded through this competition. Through these projects and programs, New Orleans will increase opportunities for skilled employment, and focus on connecting unemployed and under-employed New Orleanians to a growing “water economy” through sustained outreach and job training.

Supporting the vision of Transform City Systems, the City’s application to the competition proposed projects that improve the reliability and monitoring of critical systems like power and water, both in times of crisis and in daily life.

District D Councilmember Jared C. Brossett said, “First, I want to thank Secretary Julian Castro and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for this significant and much needed award. I also want to praise the hard work and effort of Mayor Landrieu, Chief Resilience Officer Jeff Hebert, Sewerage and Water Board Executive Director Cedric Grant, and the rest of the city’s team that has worked tirelessly to formulate the plans that this $141 million HUD grant will help fund. As the councilmember for District D, I am particularly excited that this pilot resilience effort will focus on Gentilly, an area perfectly situated both for its central location and need of improved stormwater management. Water is and will always be an integral part of New Orleans. As we continue to rebuild a 21st century city, from small community storm water management projects to major infrastructure, we are moving to a new way to live with water and mitigate potential disaster. And I am eager to work with everyone involved as this funding is put to action for the people of Gentilly and all of New Orleans.”

District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said, “Considering climate change and how our city is deeply affected by coastal erosion, New Orleans must be a model for all American cities facing similar circumstances. This award recognizes the thoughtful and pragmatic approach New Orleans is undertaking—living with water and targeting at-risk neighborhoods like Gentilly first. Going forward, there will be many more opportunities for us to leverage the BP and other money to maximize benefits for all of New Orleans.”

State Senator Karen Carter Peterson said, “I am very proud of the work done by New Orleans’ leaders, nonprofits, and our Federal partners to bring this type of innovative project to our city. New Orleans is on the front lines in the battle to deal with urban water and infrastructure issues. I’m excited to see New Orleans take a leadership role in finding solutions that can be used across our nation.”

Cedric Grant, Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, said, “The Sewerage and Water Board is proud to lead the implementation of the resilience projects for streets, drainage and stormwater management that are a part of this grant. These improvements will allow the community to become stronger and more resilient as it begins to truly live with water.”

Mike Womack, Executive Director of the FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office, said, “FEMA is proud to be part of continued efforts to address sustainable infrastructure improvements in the Gentilly neighborhood as part of a long-term resilience strategy.”

The National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) is a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) competitive grant program that has made available nearly $1 billion to states and local jurisdictions that suffered damage from Presidentially Declared Major Disasters in 2011, 2012 and 2013. New Orleans qualified for the competition due to damages from Hurricane Isaac in 2012. The Rockefeller Foundation provided additional support to NDRC applicants in the form of education and technical assistance throughout the process.

The NDRC application was two-phased. The first-phase application, submitted in March 2015, did not include specific projects or programs. Rather, it asked the 67 eligible applicants, which included 48 of 50 states; Puerto Rico; Washington, DC and 17 qualifying local governments, to frame the biggest threats, risks and vulnerabilities facing them and to describe opportunities for enhanced resilience.

Forty first-phase respondents, including the City of New Orleans, were invited to submit phase two applications in October 2015, which included specific projects and programs for funding. The City of New Orleans applied for a portion of the funding made available through NDRC to implement projects and programs for enhanced future environmental, social and economic resilience.

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