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MIT joins New Orleans recovery team

MIT is among a team of partners recently selected to help rebuild a neighborhood in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Housing Authority of New Orleans have selected Providence Community Housing and Enterprise to help plan a new community on and around the site of the Lafitte public housing development, a 27.5-acre parcel in the historic Treme/Lafitte neighborhood of New Orleans. The development was seriously damaged by the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina last August.

A team from MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) has been working with Providence and Enterprise on the project, taking the first steps toward implementing the AFL-CIO Gulf Coast Revitalization Program and developing urgently needed housing for working families.

Earlier this summer, Associate Professor J. Phillip Thompson of DUSP joined AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and others in announcing the launch of the AFL-CIO Gulf Coast Revitalization Program, a seven-year, $1 billion housing and economic development program for the communities devastated by last year's hurricanes.

On Aug. 10, New Orleans awarded the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corp. (ITC) and Providence Community Housing 196 adjudicated properties in the neighborhoods of Treme/Lafitte and Tulane/Gravier. The properties will be the basis for a $35 million housing development program by Providence and the ITC that will target low- and moderate-income households.

The Providence/Enterprise plan calls for 900 subsidized homes, the same number as in the Lafitte development before the storm, integrated in mixed-income communities. All 865 families and individuals who lived in the Lafitte development before Katrina hit will have an opportunity to return, if they so choose, either to the new apartments and homes on site or to the apartments and homes in the surrounding communities

Residents will also be able to participate in planning the new development.

Providence Community Housing is a Catholic housing initiative formed in response to the devastation caused by Katrina. Enterprise is a leading provider of development capital and expertise.

In addition to MIT and ITC, Providence and Enterprise will be working with JPMorgan Chase, Fannie Mae, Tulane University's School of Architecture, the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity and NeighborWorks America.

Providence and Enterprise has pledged to work closely with Lafitte and Treme residents to plan a community that is equitable, affordable and sustainable.

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