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City Invests $8 Million to Expand Low Barrier Shelter and to Relocate Ozanam Inn

City officials recently announced that roughly $8 million have been invested to expand programs that support the eradication of homelessness in New Orleans. The City has allocated more than $3 million for the acquisition for the new home of Ozanam Inn and $5 million to expand the Low Barrier Shelter, which opened in 2018 and will include an additional 246 new beds.

“The City of New Orleans will continue to operate strategically, utilizing funding from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to invest in programs that support our residents most in need,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We are creating long-term solutions to invest in the eradication of homelessness by relocating Ozanam Inn to a much larger facility, and extending bed capacity and services to reach women in need of a temporary housing solution. We are also increasing bed capacity to the already-full Low Barrier Shelter to continue to meet our people where they are.”

Previously located on Camp Street, the Ozanam Inn’s new property is located at 2239 Poydras St. in the Central Business District. The new location is a larger facility and presents an opportunity to expand the services provided. It will also extend sheltering opportunities and expanded services to women in need of assistance. The Inn can accommodate up to 55 women on the second floor of the facility and includes dedicated dental and medical rooms for the residents and other homeless individuals living in the surrounding area. 

Mayor Cantrell prioritized phase II of the expansion project to increase the bed count at the Low Barrier Shelter due to the overwhelming need and ability to reach capacity within the first few weeks of its opening. The shelter initially housed 100 beds and will include a total of 346 beds within the next couple of weeks.

“The goal is to transition folks from homelessness to permanent housing, and to match each person with the supportive services and the life skills needed for long-term housing stability,” said Marjorianna Willman, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Policy and Community Development.

The Low Barrier Shelter is located in a portion of the 2nd and 3rd floors of the old Veteran Administration Hospital building. The facility provides meals, supportive services and sleeping accommodations for both women and men. As a part of its programming, the City coordinates with outreach workers to identify unsheltered homeless individuals that are the most vulnerable and have been unhoused the longest. Federal funding has been allocated through the Mayor’s Office of Housing Policy and Community Development to assist in locating permanent housing for homeless individuals.

City Extends Property tax Payment Deadline

The City of New Orleans recently announced the extended deadline for 2022 property tax payments due to the significant number of damaged properties as a result of Hurricane Ida. Homeowners have until Feb. 28, 2022, to submit tax bill payments.  

On Sept. 23, the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office re-opened the tax rolls to provide homeowners an opportunity to submit Ida-related damages. 

To better serve taxpayers, public libraries throughout the city will be stationed as quick-serve drop-off locations. The following locations will serve as drop-off locations on Feb. 24, 25 and 28 only:   

East New Orleans Regional Library, 5641 Read Blvd.   

Norman Mayer Library, 3001 Gentilly Blvd.   

Mid-City Library, 4140 Canal St.   

Algiers Regional Library, 3014 Holiday Dr.  

City of New Orleans employees will be available at each drop-off location to receive sealed envelopes containing no more than three property tax stubs and payments. Cash will not be accepted, and receipts will not be provided.  

New Crescent City Card Program Provides Direct Assistance to Residents

Mayor LaToya Cantrell was recenlty joined by executives from Mastercard, Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (MoCaFi), and Forward Together New Orleans to announce the kick-off of a partnership to launch the Crescent City Card Program. The program involves of a series of initiatives and products to offer financial inclusion, access to emergency disbursements, incentives to drive economic growth, empower underbanked residents, and provide better access to City services such as NORD recreation centers, parks, libraries, and public transportation. 

“This series of initiatives will address racial and wealth gaps that we know are prevalent right here in our city,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.  “My administration continues to identify innovative ways to serve and empower our residents and will make sure that the unbanked are banked and have access to financial education and other resources so that they can attend to basic needs and continue to invest in themselves. We are strategically focused and being intentional in meeting our people where they are as we invest in their future. “ 

As part of this partnership, Forward Together New Orleans Mayor’s Fund launched the Hurricane Ida Emergency Relief Program in September, working in tandem with the City of New Orleans to distribute $190,000 to residents to aid in recovery efforts. These funds are being distributed through an Immediate Response Card furnished by MoCaFi, which acts as a prepaid bank card for quick and easy use. 

“MoCaFi is honored to join the City of New Orleans and Mastercard in offering a financial product that will effectively address the wealth gap in this incredible city,” added Wole Coaxum, founder and CEO. “A city that represents resilience, diversity, and history deserves a card that reflects the richness of its heritage and cultural appeal. The Crescent City Card will open doors to access for everyone who calls New Orleans home.” 

Also, through a $500,000 grant from Mayors For A Guaranteed Income, 125 opportunity youth will participate in the New Orleans Guaranteed Income Program beginning in December, and will receive $350 a month for ten months via a MoCaFi immediate Response Card.  Using innovative technology, this card will also provide access to NORD recreation centers via contactless technology as a part of the Crescent City Card program umbrella. 

New Orleans is one of seven cities in Mastercard’s “In Solidarity” initiative, a $500 million commitment to closing the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black Americans.  

Along with this new partnership, Mastercard is hosting programming across New Orleans touching on empowering small businesses, increasing financial literacy, lifting up HBCUs and collaborating with City leaders to use data to drive inclusive economic growth. On Monday, City representatives will join Mastercard for “In Solidarity with New Orleans,” a virtual discussion hosted by Blavity addressing a financial system that has systemically disadvantaged and excluded Black communities and how the public and private sectors can collaborate to advance opportunity and equitable growth in New Orleans.

“Mastercard is proud to join Mayor Cantrell, the City of New Orleans, and MoCaFi to introduce this first-in-the-nation partnership connecting New Orleans residents and businesses to the digital economy,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, President of Mastercard North America. “With our product innovation and insights, Mastercard is helping cities like New Orleans accelerate recovery with equity and resiliency in mind so they are better equipped for the future. We are committed to investing in New Orleans and look forward to partnering on new solutions like the Crescent City Card that support citizens and small businesses who call this great city home.” 

During the press conference, community partners from The First 72+, CEO Works and Collegiate Academies Next discussed how the Crescent City Card Program, through the Guaranteed Income initiative, will ensure the residents they serve gain access to resources that will help build generational wealth.  

The card is expected to be launched in Spring/Summer 2022, interested participants can visit mocafi.com for more information.