The Family Center of Hope has received more than $2 million in taxpayer money to open a community center. The project ran over budget and work stopped in 2012. Since then, the building has fallen into disrepair. According to the city, the politically-connected nonprofit is now seeking FEMA money to fund its completion.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration says that it controls the source of its NOLA for Life Fund money, which it hands off to a private foundation to disburse. The Landrieu administration says the grantmaking doesn’t have to occur in public, but other nonprofits have been told they must let the public observe discussions about spending taxpayer dollars.
In touting his reforms to the process of awarding city money, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has repeatedly said, “It’s not about who you know. It’s about what you know.” But when it comes to determining how $500,000 was given out through the NOLA for Life Fund, the public knows very little. The city set it up was involved in picking the grantees, but it's shielded from typical public scrutiny and accountability because a private foundation administers it.
Several years ago, The Family Center of Hope received more than $2 million to build a community center. Now it's just another half-finished project, beset by cost overruns and legal disputes. The city has decided to give the group $40,000 to provide counseling services as part of its NOLA for Life anti-violence campaign.