The DDD would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the NOFD and all the first responders for their heroic efforts in fighting and containing the massive 6-alarm fire in the 1000 block of historic Canal Street in Downtown New Orleans. Because of their tireless and unrelenting efforts, the blaze, which had the potential to spread and do even greater harm, was contained and produced no fatalities.
Canal Street continues to experience a rebirth with national retailers moving to this historic corridor. We at the DDD will continue in our effort to successfully redevelop Canal Street and attract national, regional and local retailers, like PJ’s, Fogo de Chao and Art of Shaving. Twenty-three Canal Street facades have been restored using the DDD’s Façade Improvement Matching Grant, with three more in the works. We are working with several property owners to implement an upper floor redevelopment model developed by the DDD.
We are reaching out to the property and business owners of the damaged properties as well as the others in the vicinity so that we may assist in bringing these buildings back in a way that is best for them and the area.
Again, we would like to acknowledge all the emergency personnel and express our sincerest gratitude. However, this unfortunate tragedy has cast a light on a serious problem – homelessness. For some time the DDD has been proud to work with our partners in the government, private and nonprofit sectors to address the issue of homelessness. As part of our commitment to Mayor Landrieu’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and the Downtown/Home Partnership, we signed an agreement with Travelers Aid Society of Greater New Orleans and are providing targeted homeless outreach services in Downtown New Orleans. But there is more that needs to be done.
Over the past few months, the DDD has been working with the Mayor’s office, City Council and service providers to bring a low-barrier outdoor shelter to New Orleans. These shelters are designed to have fewer barriers to entry, such as being sober or having an ID, to encourage more people, especially the mentally ill and chronically homeless, to walk in and have immediate access to much needed services. The facility would have five key elements: indoor and outdoor shelter facilities, mental health crisis beds, a sobering unit, inpatient detox treatment and medical triage.
Last year, Mayor Landrieu committed and the City Council approved $1 million in the city’s 2016 budget to go towards this effort and with the help of DDD, private and philanthropic funding sources we hope to begin construction within the year.