The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), created by the State of Louisiana in 1968 as the Community Improvement Agency (CIA), is a public agency charged with revitalization of underinvested areas in the City of New Orleans.
In the 1970s, the Agency was charged with implementing federal Urban Renewal programs, which focused on the elimination of physical blight. The City of New Orleans identified the Lower Ninth Ward, Central City, Desire-Florida, and Tulane/Gravier as areas in need of investment and repair. The first redevelopment project, completed in 1972, was for the Lower Ninth Ward. The Agency repaired streets, improved sewage systems, and planted trees along the boulevards. The next year, the Agency was tasked with implementing the City's Public Improvement Program in the Irish Channel and Broadmoor neighborhoods.
Toward the end of the 1970s, the CIA was completing its urban renewal phase and began to focus on citywide housing improvements. With funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Agency worked with the City of New Orleans to develop affordable housing. This continued in the 1980s, when the Agency used HUD funds to develop many of the programs that exist today, such as home rehabilitation lending and the acquisition of blighted properties.
In 1994, the activities of the Community Improvement Agency reconstituted itself as New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), and consolidated its resources to focus on neighborhood revitalization. Its funding and staff were limited, and programming centered on efforts to acquire blighted properties across the city and return them to commerce.
In August of 2005, the world watched as flooding after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, exacerbating the housing abandonment and blight crisis in the city. In late 2006, a consensus developed that NORA's revitalization tools and powers made it the ideal entity to help implement citywide recovery initiatives. The membership of the board was expanded and NORA began assembling a staff of highly-trained redevelopment specialists.
This transformation extended to the agency's mission as well. Rather than one-off blight expropriations, NORA became focused on comprehensive, data-driven neighborhood redevelopment. To that end, NORA was charged with the disposition of nearly 5,000 properties acquired by the state following Katrina (former Road Home Properties), and tasked with implementing the Lot Next Door ordinance. The result was that NORA's activities became more strategically focused and designed to support holistic neighborhood recovery.
Examples of our affordable housing work include the Habitat for Humanity's Musicians' Village, Make it Right's redevelopment of housing in the 9th Ward, and hundreds of affordable housing units funded through NORA's Neighborhoods Stabilization Program (NSP2).
NORA also became very active in redevelopment of key commercial corridors, including Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, St Claude Avenue, and Broad Street. Programs include funding for catalytic commercial and cultural projects such as Café Reconcile, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the New Orleans Healing Center and the Broad ReFresh Project.
NORA also functions as the City's landbank, managing a large portfolio of vacant properties across the city. As responsible stewards of this vacant land, NORA utilizes local labor to keep properties maintained, and explores creative ways to use these properties to revitalize neighborhoods. For example, our Growing Green program allows local residents and organizations to lease NORA vacant lots for urban gardening and farming. And we are proud to have completed the first project implementing the New Orleans Urban Water Plan, creating raingardens across the city to beautify neighborhoods and reduce routine flooding.
In everything that we do — affordable housing, commercial corridor revitalization, and land stewardship — NORA is focused on our mission to be a catalyst for the revitalization of New Orleans, partnering in strategic developments that celebrate the city's neighborhoods and honor its traditions.