In The News › Warning on subsidized housing help

Sep 15, 2006

Source: New Orleans Magazine

Warning on subsidized housing help

Top 5 Stories from the Past Week
1 6-09-06 22:49
BY: IAN MCNULTY

5) State Asks for OPEC Refinery

Officials from Louisiana ’s economic development department made a
pitch to oil-producing Middle Eastern countries to build a new oil
refinery in one of the state’s storm battered parishes during a
meeting in Austria of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC). The proposal comes at a time when the state is
eager to attract new investment and when there has been talk in the
industry of building new refineries to boost processing capacity. The
last new refinery built in the U.S. was Marathon Oil’s Garyville, La.,
plant, which opened in 1975.

4) Warning on Subsidized Housing Help

The local government watchdog group the Bureau of Governmental
Research (BGR) issued a report last week warning that proposed
revisions to a state rebuilding program for rental units focus too much
on low-income housing at the expense of recovery and blight
remediation. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is in charge of
funneling billions of dollars in federal aid to repair property damaged
in last year’s hurricanes, but the BGR warns that not enough of that
assistance is geared toward small-scale landlords – for instance,
those who own one or two double houses – which constitute much of
the New Orleans rental market. Proposed revisions to the program
shift away from a mixed income model of housing and will create
concentrations of poverty, BGR says, while restrictions for future
rental rates for landlords who tap LRA assistance will create even
more de facto subsidized housing. The BGR recommends making
more funding available to these types of small property owners and
removing restrictions on future rental rates. The group warns that
shortchanging small rental properties will cause serious blight
problems in neighborhoods struggling to recover. The BGR’s report
is available at www.bgr.org. Information about the LRA’s assistance
programs is available at www.state.la.us/cdbg/DRactionplans.htm.

3) State, Too, Says MR-GO Should Go

The state is the latest entity to join a federal lawsuit demanding that
the controversial Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO) be shut
down. The manmade shipping canal is blamed for channeling
hurricane storm surge into St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans
during Hurricane Katrina, overwhelming floodwalls and ravaging
communities. The St. Bernard Parish Council joined the same suit
last week, which was originally filed by residents impacted by the
flood. The suit does not ask for damages but rather seeks a courtappointed,
independent panel of experts to find a remedy to the
dangers posed by the MR-GO and devise a plan to restore the
wetlands that serve as natural barriers to storms.

2) Louisiana Lands $200 million in Film Work

A partnership of New Orleans and Los Angeles film producers
announced a deal to create a $200 million financing pool for motion
pictures filmed in Louisiana. Under the agreement, Element Films of
Los Angeles and New Orleans-based LIFT Films will develop and
fund production of between eight and 15 motion pictures over the
next three years in the state. Element will handle distribution of the
films through its own partnerships. Louisiana offers a variety of tax
credit incentives to film productions conducted in state.

1) Green Light for Central City Condo Project

Plans for a 530-unit condo project a block off of St. Charles Avenue
in a long-neglected part of Central City won necessary approval from
the New Orleans City Council. The $100 million project comes from
local developer Elie Khoury and calls for a complex of three new
buildings of six to 12 stories each to be erected on a 4.8-acre site
that is now vacant. The land had been cleared in the late 1990s for a
planned Albertson’s grocery store, which was abandoned when
Albertson’s pulled out of the local market. The site includes most of
the block bounded by Felicity, Baronne, Euterpe and Carondelet
streets. The project, called Felicity Place, will offer one- and two-bedroom
condos at mid-range market prices.

Ian McNulty is a freelance writer in New Orleans and contributing
writer for New Orleans Magazine. Reach him at imcnulty@cox.net.

Sep 15, 2006

Source: New Orleans Magazine

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