The 100 fully funded projects that Mayor Mitch Landrieu plans to unveil Friday, on his 103rd day in office, may include neighborhood-based recovery programs, as well as bricks-and-mortar projects.
Designed by the staff of former recovery czar Ed Blakely and financed out of a $411 million pot of federal Disaster Community Development Block Grants given to the city, these programs generally have been on hold for the past several months. At a public budget meeting last week in the Lower Ninth Ward, Landrieu told the crowd that two of them – a $7 million program that provides financial assistance to businesses that sell fresh food and produce in low-income neighborhoods, and a $23 million program that provides assistance for commercial reinvestment – would be moving forward in the near future. A spokesman for the mayor said Tuesday that “announcements” related to these programs, or others that are also funded by the disaster grants, would be made Friday.
Both the Fresh Foods Retail Initiative and the Neighborhood Commercial Investment Program were delayed in February when U.S. Housing and Urban Development officials, who are providing the money for the programs, balked at the bidding process the city was using to pick vendors to manage the programs. The state’s Office of Community Development approved the recovery programs in July, allowing the city to get started with a new bidding process. That approval came 13 months after the state approved the city’s recovery plan and opened the tap on the $411 million federal fund.