City looking to spend federal money more efficiently, quickly

It seemed like a simple enough question: How much of a $25 million annual federal allocation did Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration spend last year to help struggling residents and address blight? The precise figure is a hard to cipher, city officials said.

All-but-certain loans and grants aimed at reviving key intersection in Broadmoor

By Ariella Cohen, The Lens staff writer |

Some corners in this city tell quintessentially New Orleans stories, and among them is the intersection of South Broad Street and Washington Avenue. There on the trafficky Broadmoor bend, King’s Meat Market and Grocery sells gumbo-ready mixes of seasoned poultry parts named for whichever store employee or customer first divined the recipe’s proportion of legs to necks to pickled tips.

City forced to tweak spending as $38B federal budget cut ripples downstream

By Ariella Cohen, The Lens staff writer |

Two months after President Barack Obama and Congress averted a government shutdown by eliminating $38 billion in federal spending for 2011, New Orleans is feeling the pinch. The $2.8 billion cut to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development budget has crimped the city’s Office of Community Development by about $3.5 million.

Public comments invited on plan to spend $28.8 million

City officials will hold a public hearing tonight on how to spend $28.8 million in federal anti-poverty and homelessness grants. The federal money, computed using formulas that take into account local poverty rates, is a key source for emergency shelter, affordable housing and social-service programs for low-income, homeless or HIV-positive Louisiana residents.

Consultants at first questioned “urgent” tag of new hospital

Consultants who helped former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin secure $75 million in federal Katrina recovery grants for the construction of a new Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lower Mid-City initially questioned the legality of using federal disaster recovery grants for a project that would not be complete until seven to 10 years after the storm, newly obtained e-mails between project planners show. The e-mail dialogue (pdf) spans the month leading up to the March 2009 approval of the largest single-project appropriation of Katrina recovery dollars to date.

Fresh-food, investment plan may be in list of 100 projects

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.

City releases HUD report, invites public comments

The federal government gave New Orleans more than $6.5 million to build or repair affordable housing last year, resulting in 63 rental rehabs and 150 blighted property renovations, according to the draft of a federal report released for public review this week. Another 81 blighted properties were expropriated using the federal grant money, according to the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Draft Report released for public review Monday.

City makes $50k grant to support abstinence education

The city gave $50,000 in federal grant money in part to help support sexual abstinence education done by a Christian organization, according to a spending report presented Monday to members of the City Council. The grant also financed tutoring and day camps for more than 100 kids.

Less than 5% of certain recovery money spent, administration says

More than two years after New Orleans was given permission to begin drawing down federal recovery grants, the city has spent less than 5 percent of the $300 million in grant money appropriated in the city’s operating budget, the city’s chief technology officer Harrison Boyd told the City Council today. The amount totals $11 million, a small fraction of the $411 million in federal Disaster Community Development Block Grants the city is eligible to receive.