CDCU Works to Rebuild New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS – ASI FCU’s initiative to help rebuild the city’s upper Ninth Ward, flattened by Hurricane Katrina, received a $300,000 boost from NeighborWorks, the quasi-public housing foundation announced yesterday. The grant will help the $240 million CDCU provide new housing in the blighted St. Claude’s neighborhood of the city’s upper Ninth Ward, which was mostly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The NeighborWorks funds will be used by ASI’s fledgling community development corp., known as A Shared Initiative Inc., which acquired 10 condemned homes from the city of New Orleans that it plans to demolish and replace with 11 modular homes, according to Sarah Taylor, director of ASII. The credit union will then offer the neighborhood’s low-income low-interest mortgages to buy the properties. “Before Hurricane Katrina, we didn’t even consider housing a major need,” Taylor told The Credit Union Journal. “Since then, it’s exploded as a need, with all of the homes that have been destroyed and the increase in rents.” The project’s site is opposite the Musician’s Village, an affordable housing project being developed by famous New Orleans trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and bandleader Harry Connick Jr. with Habitat for Humanity. ASI’s efforts in the upper Ninth Ward’s St. Claude neighborhood got a boost last summer with a $100,000 grant from the National Federation of CDCUs to help it buy and renovate a community center, which will include a credit union branch. The neighborhood, one of the poorest in New Orleans, sustained the worst damage by Hurricane Katrina, sending thousands of its inhabitants fleeing to other towns and states. ASI itself lost 16,000 of its 90,000 members as a result of the flight.