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City of New Orleans Provides an Overview of The Cantrell Administration’s First Term in Office

NEW ORLEANS – As Mayor LaToya Cantrell prepares to begin her second term in office, the City remains focused on top priorities established by the Cantrell Administration in 2018 as a part of the Strategic Framework. These priorities include approaching public safety as a matter of public health, improving the quality of life, investing in sustainable infrastructure, increasing economic development opportunities in all areas of New Orleans, and spearheading culture changes in City government.

“Throughout this first term in office, my administration prioritized implementing innovative solutions to efficiently enhance government operations and secure our fair share of state and federal resources to improve our City’s infrastructure,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Although the years to follow incurred a number of monumental challenges and 17 emergency declarations, we were able to streamline and enhance City services and jump-start major sustainable infrastructure and affordable housing projects. As we look toward the future of New Orleans, we must remain vigilant in building our economy while continuing to invest in priorities that are critical to the growth and resiliency of our city and our people.”

In 2018, Mayor Cantrell prioritized administering unexpended funding for road and drainage repairs as a part of the Joint Infrastructure Recovery Response (JIRR) program. The infrastructure team focused on improving coordination between the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) and the Department of Public Works (DPW), which greatly accelerated roadwork across the city using JIRR funds.

Additionally, the administration worked to streamline City service provisions and procedures more efficiently, invested in new public safety and affordable housing initiatives, developed youth programming, and encouraged the beautification of New Orleans neighborhoods through the CleanUpNOLA initiative.

Several new offices were established to meet the needs of residents while addressing persistent issues in the city. These efforts included the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation, Office of Youth and Families, Office of Utilities, Office of Gun Violence Prevention, Office of Business and External Services and Office of Human Rights and Equity.

2018 Achievements 

  • The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) secured a $37K Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for a Flood Response Preparation package.
  • NOHSEP completed the Grid Analysis and Design for Energy and Infrastructure Resiliency for a New Orleans study in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories.
  • NOHSEP secured Hazard Mitigation funding for a City Park green infrastructure project.
  • The Office of Neighborhood Engagement launched Community Office Hours to increase community awareness of City programs and to offer direct access within neighborhoods.
  • The CleanUpNOLA campaign was launched as a major priority of the Administration to encourage resident buy-in for a cleaner, healthier city, and as a quality-of-life initiative encompassing educational components.
  • More than $10 million was awarded to nine housing organizations to build 504 rental units at a combined total amount of $118 million.
  • The City opened its 100-bed Low Barrier Shelter that provides 24-hour access for homeless individuals, and intensive placement services for rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing and other long-term housing solutions.
  • The Office of Economic Development (OED) launched the $5 million BuildNOLA remobilization loan fund to increase access for local Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) to green infrastructure and road projects.
  • LM Wind Power, a GE renewable energy business, announced its expansion at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East, leading the way in the City’s move to expand renewable power generation.
  • The City kicked off Phase II of the $9.5 million Bourbon Street roadwork redevelopment project.
  • The Department of Sanitation completed the following, manually cleaning 4,000 miles of major thoroughfares, clearing 2,000 dumping sites and removing 48,000 tires from those sites, and recycling more than 7,000 tons of items, which equates to City cost savings of $230K.
  • The establishment of the Office of Youth and Families (OYF) provided City oversight of the New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission, Juvenile Justice Intervention Center and the New Orleans Public Library. OYF worked to transform conditions at the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center by bringing in new leadership, resulting in several improvements including a significant reduction in the number of critical incidents.

In 2019, Mayor Cantrell led the effort to pass the Fair Share legislation, a historic agreement with the State to help finance infrastructure programs, generating $50 million in one-time funding and $27 million in recurring dollars. The City also developed the Strategic Framework budgeting process and performance management tool to track City services achievements. The Framework addressed the concerns of residents through months of public engagement and identified public safety as a major concern. As a result, citywide resource leveraging prompted a 20 percent reduction in the murder rate, representing a historic low for New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). In addition, the Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD) consolidated 911 and 311 services to improve efficiency, making 311 available to residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Demonstrating fiscal responsibility and stabilization, the City received an upgraded bond rating from A2 to A3 in less than a year from Moody’s Investors Service. This upgrade resulted in the initiation of a $500 million bond sale for infrastructure work and the creation of more affordable housing initiatives, saving the City approximately $900K annually.

Several sobering challenges prompted emergency declarations in response to Hurricane Barry, the Hard Rock Hotel collapse and the Cyberattack by the end of 2019.

2019 Achievements 

  • The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Coordination secured and allocated $6.6 million in state, federal and private grant funds to implement jail reduction programs that safely reduce the jail population, and to treat underlying mental health and substance use issues that commonly contribute to crime.
  • The City partnered with Odyssey House Louisiana to open a Sobering Center to provide a temporary location for inebriated individuals to sober up, as an alternative to jail or a hospital.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Housing Policy and Community Development (OCD) received $24.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funding for rental housing in New Orleans.
  • The City’s Soft Second Mortgage Program assisted 44 recipients, expending $1.5 to help first time homeowners.
  • OED allowed small businesses and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) to participate in the public bid process for contracts valued at $20K to $5 million as the prime contractor, removing the limitation of only qualifying as sub-contractors.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development provided over 1,300 new job seekers with employment and training services, of which 71 participated in the STRIVE work readiness program.
  • The City completed fully reconstructing the surface and sub-surface utilities in the 500-800 blocks of Bourbon Street, which yielded enhanced public safety, a rehabilitated sewer system, upsized drainage and ADA-compliant curb ramps.
  • DPW completed 26 capital projects valued at $112 million, removing litter from 3,276 miles, clearing 1,317 illegal dumping sites and removing 27,676 waste tires.
  • The City continued the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and HUD National Disaster Resilience Program projects, which consist of the $15.5 million Pontilly Neighborhood Stormwater Network. This network will store nearly 9 million gallons of stormwater and reduce flooding of as much as 14 inches of rainwater during a 10-year rain event.
  • The City launched the design of more than $85 million in projects through the Gentilly Resilience District (Mirabeau Water Garden, St. Anthony Green Streets, St. Bernard Campus, Blue & Green Corridors, Dillard Wetlands, Pontilly Dwyer Canal).
  • The SWBNO was selected for a $111 million federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to fund the full rehabilitation of New Orleans’ sanitary sewer system.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Transportation facilitated the award of $3.7 million for the Union Passenger Terminal improvements with NOBC and the Regional Planning Commission.
  • NOHSEP expanded the active shooter preparedness program and performed 38 trainings, exercises and risk assessments for community partners such as non-profit organizations, schools, hospitals, libraries and faith-based communities.
  • NOHSEP installed 104 new neighborhood public safety cameras across the city and completed the installation and commissioning of the Automated Flood Warning System.
  • NOHSEP was awarded $12.4 million in Flood Mitigation Assistance Funds for 52 homes and awarded Flood Mitigation Assistance funds to elevate the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club lounge.
  • NOLA Ready launched special event notifications for the public by email and emergency text alerts and launched routewise.nola.gov.
  • NOLA Ready increased emergency text alert subscribers and online engagement by nearly 45 percent in 2019.
  • The New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) partnered with Tulane University to obtain approximately $500K in grant funding to focus on integrating trauma-informed school approaches in local charter schools and $8 million for HIV services.
  • The Office of Youth and Families secured $1.5 million for early childhood education.

In 2020, the Board of Liquidation authorized the City of New Orleans to sell more than $300 million in bonds to support infrastructure upgrades as a result of the City’s fiscal responsibility and management. However, the first COVID-19 cases in New Orleans were identified in March and resulted in a full city shut down because of the quickly spreading virus among residents and nationwide. This devastated the local economy, causing substantial job loss, business closures and hardships, and a temporary halt of in-person services.

The administration transitioned its primary focus from infrastructure programs and other priorities to slowing the spread of the COVID-19 and rising cases and deaths across the city. The City lost more than $150 million in revenue and was forced to institute a temporary employee furlough. Severe budget cuts across departments were implemented, which led to extreme uncertainty. The City utilized available resources from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in response to the economic fallout to implement initiatives to continue providing City services. The City also launched the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), three federal mass testing sites and spearheaded a mass community feeding program in partnership with NOLA Ready, among others.

2020 Achievements 

  • NOHSEP launched the first-of-its-kind COVID-19 mass feeding program at a cost of $18 million, serving more than 11,000 residents in partnership with 80 local restaurants.
  • NOHSEP began pandemic operational coordination with PPE and testing sites.
  • NOHSEP updated the City’s Hazard Mitigation Plan and secured nearly $11 million in grant funding for mitigation planning, residential elevations and public infrastructure projects.
  • NOHSEP successfully engaged non-profit disaster partners in COVID and hurricane response, receiving and managing donations valued at more than $5 million.
  • NOHSEP installed 65 new City-owned public safety cameras, integrating over 50 privately owned cameras through the SafeCam Platinum partnership program.
  • NOHSEP created the NOLA Ready Volunteer Corps, a volunteer group for disaster response. In 2020, 800 new volunteers trained and volunteered for COVID, hurricanes, and other public safety activities.
  • NOHSEP completed the installation of the ALERT Flood Warning System and established real-time data sharing between the City’s Flood Warning System, the National Weather Service and the Sewerage and Water Board.
  • The City launched the Emergency Rental Assistance program, which provided more than $8.4 million in rental payments for Orleans Parish residents and established the $1.5 million Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program, which assisted up to 100 landlords and stabilized housing for 500-700 households.
  • The Mayor’s Fund, Forward Together New Orleans, raised nearly $183K for additional rental assistance to ensure all residents remained safely in their homes during the pandemic.
  • The New Orleans Business Alliance, the City’s accredited economic development organization, launched the Gig-economy Workers Relief fund, raising $1.5 million in relief dollars to distribute.
  • OED led the creation of a new parklet permit program and committed over $250K for grants to support the creation of outdoor dining spaces in sidewalk cafes, off street parking lots and parklets to allow restaurants to continue to operate.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy launched the Embrace the Culture Series as a virtual platform to showcase more than 200 local artists and provide an opportunity for them to earn revenue while reaching wider audiences. The series garnered more than 100K social media interactions.
  • Film New Orleans hosted 131 projects, bringing a total of $414 million in revenue to New Orleans.
  • The CEO Returning Stimulus (CRS) program, supported by the Office of Criminal Justice Coordination (OCJC), distributed $1.61 million to just over 800 returning residents to prevent, prepare for and respond to the pandemic.
  • The Project Delivery Unit (PDU) Sustainable Infrastructure program managed $208 million in hazard mitigation and disaster resilience projects.
  • The Youth Master Plan was launched as a comprehensive, ten-year roadmap to improve child well-being in New Orleans.
  • The Office of Youth and Families (OYF) produced a data book/fiscal map and was third in the country to produce a comprehensive toolkit documenting child well-being and the City’s investments in youth. OYF also raised over $4 million to fund COVID relief and recovery services such as immigrant cash assistance, access to infant and maternal hygiene products, youth housing assistance and technology items for distance learning.
  • OYF doubled the City’s investment in early childhood education from $1.5 million to $3 million to provide early learning seats for income eligible families with 0–3-year-olds.
  • As part of the CleanUpNOLA initiative, the Department of Sanitation cleared more than 2,000 illegal dumping sites and removed more than 36,802 waste tires.
  • Twenty-five capital projects at a value of $41.2 million were completed, including the McCue Playground Restroom and Concessions Building, Lafitte Greenway Shelter, Parks and Parkways Greenhouses, NOFD Engine 36, Allie Mae Williams Multiservice Center, OPP Docks Renovations and the Eastshore Playground Multi-Purpose Building.
  • DPW issued 72 construction Notices to Proceed (NTPs), with an estimated value of $390 million, and instituted technology-driven management of catch basins which has resulted in cleaning 6,175 catch basins.
  • The Neighborhood Navigators program was launched by the Office of Neighborhood Engagement and the Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD) to assist residents with understanding resources such as CARES Act benefits (housing, PPP, unemployment benefits), contact tracing and tax assistance.
  • The City’s Regional Transit Authority (RTA) secured more than $64 million in grants.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Transportation completed the New Orleans Citywide Bikeway Blueprint to guide both an initial 75-mile buildout and a long-term citywide network.

In 2021, the City expanded several programs utilizing additional federal grants made available to assist residents during the ongoing pandemic. The City expended $40 million in rental assistance to households and landlords to avoid mass evictions. When the COVID-19 vaccine was available, the City partnered with the Louisiana National Guard and Department of Health, and local community pharmacies to provide vaccines to Orleans Parish residents. The City also partnered with LCMC Health to open a mass vaccination site at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and announced the youth vaccination initiative through a $90K investment from philanthropic partners in collaboration with CrescentCare and NOLA Public Schools. By the end of the year, 73 percent of the total population had been vaccinated (over 91 percent of adults), and 48 percent of the youth population had been vaccinated.

2021 Achievements 

  • The Mayor’s Office launched the City AmeriCorps VISTA project, which provided over 20 full-time employees using federal grant funding.
  • The Office of Gun Violence Prevention launched its inaugural Barbers and Beauticians Collective to connect barbers and beauticians with community members to reduce violence.
  • NOPD implemented a new promotions procedure and have since promoted 16 Captains, 5 Lieutenants and 17 Sergeants. Four additional promotions were processed in advance of the new procedure.
  • NOPD reported the removal of 1,950 illegal guns from the streets of New Orleans and solved 16 cold case homicides with an overall homicide solve rate of 50 percent.
  • As a part of Mayor Cantrell’s $77 million mid-year budget adjustments, funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was allocated to address critical operating needs focused on enhancing public safety services to address crime and implement new public safety initiatives.
  • NOHSEP secured $20 million in new grant funding for residential elevations and flood mitigation projects.
  • NOHSEP refined emergency plans with a particular focus on City-Assisted Evacuation (CAE) and created a centralized registration process for CAE which was tested with a functional exercise. NOLA Ready developed volunteer trainings for CAE and trained approximately 500 NOLA Ready volunteers on CAE operations.
  • The approximately 4,000-member NOLA Ready Volunteer Corps spent more than 15,800 hours participating in COVID, Hurricane Ida and other public safety activities.
  • NOHSEP successfully engaged non-profit disaster partners in COVID and Hurricane Ida response, providing nearly 200,000 meals immediately following the storm.
  • NOHSEP installed 20 new City-owned public safety cameras, while integrating 35 privately owned cameras through the SafeCam Platinum partnership program.
  • Through the Office of Cultural Economy, the City partnered with the New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund (NOTCF) to provide $1.1 million in grants to local culture bearers.
  • The Crescent City Card program was launched in partnership with Mastercard, MoCaFi and Forward Together New Orleans to provide access to banking, financial literacy, and centralized access to City services.
  • More than 900 affordable housing units were constructed, and 600 units are currently under construction as a result of funding provided by the City of New Orleans.
  • The City was also awarded $10 million in federal dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the development of an additional 504 affordable housing units with a combined total development cost of $118 million.
  • A Notice of Funding Availability was issued for $7 million in affordable housing development, and the City has allocated $7.6 million for down payment assistance for homeownership programming. Seventy-one homeowners received down payment assistance in 2021.
  • Approximately $9.2 million has been expended to expand and rehabilitate homeless shelters, making 350 new beds available along with expanded support services.
  • OCD created a $2 million Hurricane Ida Insurance Deductible Program, serving 200-300 households to cover insurance deductibles.
  • The City invested over $1 million in funding to create alternative detention programs and supportive services for system-involved youth. These programs include the Summer Success and Pathways program, Evening Reporting Center, and the Intensive In-Home and Supervision Program.
  • The City continued to invest in early childhood education, reaching $3 million in funding to provide a total of 500 early learning seats for 0–3-year-olds.
  • OYF launched a pilot guaranteed income program to provide 125 opportunity youth with $350 a month for ten months.
  • The State announced future plans to build the Louisiana Space Campus at the Michoud Assembly Facility. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Beach (Research and Technology Park) at UNO $1.3 million to develop a Biotech Lab on the UNO campus, which is expected to create over 30 jobs.
  • OED announced redevelopment plans for the Six Flags site, the Naval Support Activity, West End and NASA/Michoud. The City has also completed the engineering and environmental assessment of Lincoln Beach with plans to redevelop the site.
  • The Office of Business and External Services (OBES) created satellite office hours at central locations, making public-facing services more efficient, transparent and effective.
  • The Office of Historic Preservation opened 242 violation cases in the French Quarter alone, which resulted in fines of over $330K.
  • The Office of Workforce Development provided over 900 new job seekers with employment and training services and placed over 800 job seekers in employment.
  • The Office of Workforce Development secured a $2.9 million federal CAREER grant for workers and job seekers affected by COVID.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Transportation helped pass Regional Transit Authority (RTA) fare structure changes, reducing trip costs and creating new passes for youth and seniors.
  • The City completed the $15.5 million Pontilly Neighborhood Stormwater Network. This network will store nearly 9 million gallons of stormwater and reduce flooding of as much as 14 inches of rainwater during a 10-year rain event.
  • In November 2021, Mayor Cantrell signed an ordinance establishing more stringent responsibility standards for prospective City contractors.
  • The City passed an ordinance that would deputize civilian employees of some City departments to issue citations for certain quality of life municipal violations.
  • The New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) received a successful re-accreditation, which is from the completion of a 5-year planning process to provide the highest level of certification for a Health Department.

The Cantrell Administration will continue to focus on critical priorities that will create an improved quality of life for the residents of New Orleans. By implementing more innovative initiatives and expanding upon those outlined during the first term, the City remains committed to creating better outcomes for individuals and families.

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