NEW ORLEANS, LA - Ten years after the storm that devastated New Orleans in 2005, residents and business owners continue to face challenges as affordable multifamily housing and essential neighborhood services remain scarce. Thanks in part to a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant from Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB) and First Bank and Trust, 100 new senior housing units will be built in Eastern New Orleans, an area hit especially hard by Hurricane Katrina.
Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Corporation (MQVN CDC) is spearheading the initiative. Established in 2006 to assist Vietnamese-Americans in rebuilding their community after Hurricane Katrina, MQVN CDC provides social, healthcare, workforce development, and housing services to New Orleans residents, many of whom are monolingual Vietnamese residents. The $14.5 million project, called Viet Village, will provide 100 units for the area's senior population and is projected to be completed in 2017.
A unique component of Viet Village's contribution to the community is the organization's ability to provide services to the Vietnamese-, Spanish-, and English-speaking population.
"Because of the language barrier, displaced residents are unable to communicate their health and nutritional needs in all of the other elderly housing projects in the city," said Tuan Nguyen, executive director at MQVN CDC. "Viet Village will be the first culturally competent senior apartment complex in the Gulf South."
As part of the services provided to Viet Village, residents will also benefit from the community's proximity to another project connected to MQVN CDC, VEGGI, a farmer's cooperative established in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill which resulted in many Vietnamese-American fisherman losing their livelihoods. VEGGI's mission is to provide sustainable jobs and healthy food to the community.
"There is an ongoing need for social assistance for the Vietnamese community of New Orleans," said John Widlitze, relationship manager at First Bank and Trust. "First Bank and Trust is proud to partner with FHLB Dallas and MQVN CDC in providing affordable housing through Viet Village."
FHLB Dallas annually returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants to the communities served by its member institutions. AHP grants fund a variety of projects, including home rehabilitation and modifications for low-income, elderly, and special-needs residents; down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified first-time homebuyers; and the construction of low-income, multifamily rental communities and single-family homes.
FHLB Dallas, in partnership with its member financial institutions, has awarded more than $7.4 million in AHP grants to 32 projects, primarily within its five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas.
July 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the Affordable Housing Program. Since the program's inception, FHLB Dallas has awarded more than $237 million in AHP grants to help approximately 44,000 families obtain affordable, quality housing.
"It is our privilege to help our members serve their communities, especially when there is such a great need for affordable housing and community services," said Greg Hettrick, vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas. "We are proud to partner with First Bank and Trust to fulfill that need within the New Orleans community."