Greater New Orleans Foundation Honored for Innovative Housing and Community Development Partnerships

September 13, 2012

New Orleans, LA | September 13, 2012 – The Greater New Orleans Foundation has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in partnership with the Council on Foundations, as one of 10 recipients of the first annual Secretary’s Award for Community Foundations. GNOF received the award for its innovative public-philanthropic collaborations designed to address housing and community development challenges.

GNOF’s partners in the Fighting Blight with Strategies that Work initiative were the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, and the Center for Community Progress. This partnership mobilized five years after Katrina to address the 43,000 vacant, abandoned, and blighted properties within New Orleans. To assist with this ambitious goal, GNOF made a two-year, $500,000 grant and created a collaboration that helped the City reduce blight by 3,615 properties in a little over a year.

“This is a perfect example of a successful public-private partnership. We used our resources to create new policies that were then implemented by city agencies,” said Ellen Lee, senior vice president of programs for the Greater New Orleans Foundation who also chaired the Mayor’s transition team on blight. “Success was changing the system.”

Policy changes that were implemented included the consolidation of duplicative government functions, the improvement of data management systems, and the restructuring of the lien foreclosure process.

“Problem properties can be remediated and or demolished in a timeline of three to six months, instead of the one year to 18 months that it used to take,” said Nicole Heyman with the Center for Community Progress and member of the initiative. “Over the coming months and years, we’re going to see more and more properties turn from a state of blight to constructive reuse which will raise property values and quality of life for all New Orleanians.”

Collaborations like this will ensure that the City’s blight eradication program is on course to reach the Mayor’s pledge to reduce blight by 10,000 units in this term. “In the face of such immense challenges, such as the one New Orleans faces with blight, the only way forward is through partnerships and collaborative efforts,” said Jeff Hebert, executive director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

Cities such as Memphis and Philadelphia have taken notice of New Orleans’ aggressive strategies and are beginning to incorporate some of them into their work. For more information on the initiative Fighting Blight with Strategies that Work, please click here.

About the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF)
GNOF is the community foundation serving the 13-parish Greater New Orleans region. We design and lead initiatives that improve the region, connect donors to community needs, identify and support great nonprofits, and strengthen civil society.

About the Center for Community Progress
Community Progress exists to help meet the growing need in America’s cities and towns for effective, sustainable solutions to turn vacant, abandoned and problem properties into vibrant places.

About the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA)
NORA is a neighborhood revitalization catalyst creating opportunities for investment to help New Orleans reach its fullest potential.

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Pictured left to right: Maurice Jones, Deputy Secretary of HUD; Jeff Hebert, Executive Director, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; Ellen Lee, Senior Vice President for Programs, Greater New Orleans Foundation; and Vicki Spruill, President, Council on Foundations.