Friday, May 08, 2009

New Library in Gentilly

May 8, 2009

Christina Stephens
Louisiana Recovery Authority

State of Louisiana Approves Nearly $400,000 for Temporary Library in Gentilly Neighborhood of New Orleans

BATON ROUGE, La. - The state of Louisiana has approved $395,000 for a three-year lease on a commercial space that will provide a temporary library in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, allowing the city's Office of Recovery and Development Administration to access federal Community Development Block Grant funds needed to implement the project.

The city plans to locate the temporary library within walking distance of the damaged Norman Mayer Library at 2098 Foy St., which will be rebuilt with FEMA funds.

The funding comes from the Long Term Community Recovery Program, a $700 million pool of federal CDBG money set aside by the Louisiana Recovery Authority and Office of Community Development to help local governments rebuild and implement long-term recovery plans.

After sustaining major damage from Hurricane Katrina, the Norman Mayer Library in Gentilly remains shuttered. As a result, local residents do not have easy public access to critical information and resources that could help improve their lives and those of their families. The proposed temporary library will offer basic library and internet services, as well as provide community meeting rooms.

The CDBG disaster recovery funds will be used to pay monthly rent at the commercial space for three years.

LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater said, "The temporary library in Gentilly will serve as a community center where friends and neighbors can reconnect and exchange important recovery information while their main library is under construction. Investing disaster recovery funding in this project will give residents access to much-needed information that can help guide their rebuilding efforts with best-practice models for success."

"Libraries are critical to the life of every community," said Mayor C. Ray Nagin. "As we move forward with rebuilding libraries throughout our city, citizens will be well served by temporary facilities where they can obtain books and other materials, obtain important information and take an active part in their neighborhoods."

The state's LTCR program supports implementation of local governments' long-term recovery plans in the most heavily impacted communities in the state. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved LRA's request to reallocate $500 million in CDBG dollars to the program, bringing to $700 million the total amount of long-term recovery funding available to the parishes. Funds are distributed among the parishes through the LRA/Office of Community Development according to a formula based on estimated housing and infrastructure damages inflicted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In total, the LRA has allocated $410,720,016 of CDBG funding to the city of New Orleans for LTCR projects.

Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.



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