On Thursday, August 13, District E City Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen broke ground on The Reveal apartments, which she described as affordable quality housing for families in the area.
According to a press release from Councilmember Nguyen’s office, The $42 million gated community, owned by The Commonwealth Companies, will provide 150-units of 1, 2, 3, & 4-bedroom affordable homes to families making at or below 60% of the Area Median Income in New Orleans East. The property will also include a community room, fitness center, and physical therapy room, library, playground, walking/bike path, splash pad, gazebo, and an on-site property management office.
The property management office will also have a Resident Care Coordinator whose sole job is to connect residents to available resources. The Resident Care Coordinator will also help families connect to Head Start programs and have private counseling offices so that providers have a place to meet with residents. The model Commonwealth follows is based on best practices in supportive housing, and especially in the housing first model. Residents will also be able to utilize an on-site business incubator, which will assist residents in technology access and business services such as offices and a conference room.
The Reveal Apartments will be located at 13707 Chef Menteur Highway.
Reaction to the news was mixed, and one resident, upset about what is perceived as a lack of attention to bringing businesses to the area, sent a letter to Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Councilmember Nguyen.
The content of the letter follows:
“I am a New Orleans East resident. I heard on the news this morning that a new development for low income housing is coming to the east. I am not happy about this. The east has suffered since the introduction of section 8 housing and has yet to recover like surrounding New Orleans areas. Our property values have been static for years and yet our concerns are local parades and snowball socials. We need some major activity that will boost the economy for this area and not things that bring no value or are detrimental to a neighborhood starving to just be viable. We long for a better quality of life and hope for some attention that other close-by areas enjoy. It is awful that this new development was allowed to sneak pass us. I would rather the tires because it does not bring bring crime and diminish the little quality left in the neighborhood. I have nothing against affordable housing, but New Orleans does not have a good reputation for managing it, and eventually it becomes blighted and crime ridden. A gate around a community does not satisfy us. There are enough existing apartment complexes in the area that could satisfy this need.
On another note, something needs to be done with the Sewerage and Waterboard. My water bill has been wrong for two months. I am receiving two bills in one month. I am tired of being extorted by the Waterboard. You can’t call them to resolve issues quickly and it is a big inconvenience to visit their office. This needs to be handled immediately.
There is no wonder why people move to other parishes. It is hard and too difficult to live in New Orleans. We have too many problems that get shuffled around. We need to focus on the important issues so that we can better our neighborhoods. It is ridiculous that I have to write about developers taking advantage of our area and being robbed by the water company.
As elected leaders, I impose on you to do something.”
Councilmember Nguyen responded to each of the concerns by stating that it is a fact that not everyone can afford to purchase a home. However, the city of New Orleans has been working to provide financial support to help people to become first time home buyers. She added that many of the current apartments in the East are in bad condition and the administration has been working to address this concern with the departments of Code Enforcement and Safety and Permits. The plan also appears to be to force out the poorly maintained properties by creating competition with quality housing.
Councilmember Nguyen also emphasized that “Affordable housing does not mean low income housing. Affordable means not allowing people to use 30% of the income for housing where they can use the saving to take care of childcare, food and transportation.”
She also remarked that this project was introduced to the community and through several meetings to get input from community members. “I truly believe that as we attract responsible and accountable developers/owners, we will be able to shift the narrative for the entire district and city,” she said.
Councilmember Nguyen also acknowledged that the concern with the Sewerage and Water Board impacts a large number of residents and said that the agency has developed a plan to address the issue.