On Hurricane Katrina Anniversary Volunteers of America Opens Additional Housing for Residents of New Orleans

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Volunteers of America, one of the nation’s largest non-profit organizations, has been operating in New Orleans for more than 100 years. The organization lost 1,050 units of affordable housing in the region during Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, the organization started a program called Coming Back Home in an effort to replace the housing that was lost. So far, 665 new units have been rebuilt or are under development.

“The Terraces on Tulane is really an anchor for redevelopment in the Mid-City area,” stated Mike King, president and CEO of Volunteers of America. “This is one of only a few residential buildings to be built in this area following the hurricane."

This month residents will begin moving back into Elysian Courtyards of Gentilly in New Orleans. The housing complex, owned and operated by Volunteers of America, was flooded during Hurricane Katrina. As part of Volunteers of America’s Coming Back Home initiative, it provides 150 units of affordable work force housing for local residents.

Volunteers of America was an active organization in New Orleans and the entire Gulf region long before Katrina. When the hurricane hit, Volunteers of America employees worked diligently around the clock to evacuate families, seniors and other clients served by their programs. Many seniors were successfully relocated to other cities throughout the U.S. but, with most having been lifelong residents of New Orleans, they have wanted nothing more than to come back home.

The stories are endless as Volunteers of America’s families, seniors and veterans return to New Orleans. Many of the Volunteers of America employees lived through harrowing ordeals themselves in an effort to get their families to safety while caring for their clients and themselves.

Henry Mercadel, a retired postal worker and Vietnam veteran, is looking forward to moving back to Elysian Courtyards, a place that he remembers as being “peaceful and quiet.” He was rescued by boat from his apartment two days after the hurricane hit. His return provides a reunion with other residents he has not seen since Katrina.

Volunteers of America, one of the nation’s largest non-profit organizations, has been operating in New Orleans for more than 100 years. The organization lost 1,050 units of affordable housing in the region during Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, the organization started a program called Coming Back Home in an effort to replace the housing that was lost. So far, 665 new units have been rebuilt or are under development.

Volunteers of America’s first housing renovation following Katrina was in 2006 to restore 151 single-room occupancy units that provide housing and supportive services for formerly homeless men and women recovering from substance abuse. That same year they also redeveloped nine group homes around the city, providing housing for 50 residents with developmental disabilities.

In 2008 they completed 11 affordable single-family homes. In March 2010 they opened the $35 million Terraces on Tulane housing which includes 200 one-bedroom units for low-income seniors. The complex includes a community center and a health clinic.

“The Terraces on Tulane is really an anchor for redevelopment in the Mid-City area,” stated Mike King, president and CEO of Volunteers of America. “In addition to providing much needed housing for Volunteers of America seniors, this is one of only a few residential buildings to be built in this area following the hurricane.”

In June of 2011, the Groves at Mile Branch Creek will open in Covington and will include rentals and single family homes. In June of 2012, Volunteers of America will open a 90,000 square foot mixed-use development in a historic building in the Lower Garden District of the city that will have 42 residential units to start with and a long-term goal of supporting 210 units.

In addition to new housing, Volunteers of America has provided a wide range of social services to tens of thousands of residents in the gulf coast since the hurricane. Programs include providing crisis counseling to 50,000 individuals, handling thousands of calls on a 24-hour crisis line, providing school supplies to hundreds of students, home repairs, mentoring, veterans services, substance abuse programs and provided crisis counseling and training to first responders.

Volunteers of America recently launched a website to share personal stories of those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

About Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and healthcare, Volunteers of America helps more than 2 million people in over 400 communities. We offer a variety of services for older Americans, in particular, that allow them to maintain their independence and quality of life – everything from an occasional helping hand to full-time care. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services. For more information about Volunteers of America, visit http://www.VolunteersofAmerica.org.

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Lisa Schaumann
Bendure Communications
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