Rebuilding Together New Orleans
A continuing volunteer effort to improve the quality of life of low income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly, disabled, veterans or single head of households with minor children, through home repair and revitalization of New Orleans’ neighborhoods.
Rebuilding Together New Orleans is a program of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans that focuses on the residents in Orleans Parish using a combination of volunteer and professional labor.
Rebuilding Together New Orleans (RTNO) started in 1988 when the Preservation Resource Center instituted a one-day neighborhood revitalization pilot program in the Lower Garden District. Named Christmas in October, the pilot program was modeled after the national Christmas in April program. It was implemented to address the needs of existing homeowners, namely the elderly and disabled who had become ill equipped to manage home repair.
In 1988, 11 homes and 1 school were painted and repaired, utilizing 373 volunteers provided by 14 corporate and community groups. A total budget of $24,349 was raised through corporate donations.
By 2005, Rebuilding Together New Orleans (RTNO) had become a major component of the overall Preservation Resource Center neighborhood revitalization effort and an affiliate in the top 4% of Rebuilding Together National programs nationwide. At the start of 2005, RTNO had worked on 900 owner occupied houses, seven neighborhood schools, six community centers, a courthouse and a warehouse through expansion and hard working volunteers.
After Hurricane Katrina, RTNO modified its mission to aid those displaced by the storm. Instead of only smaller projects, RTNO began to focus on the total renovation and rebuilding of storm-damaged homes. By reinvesting in and restoring the existing housing stock of the city, RTNO was able to bring homeowners back to their homes, as well as provide a model for restoring and preserving New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods. RTNO’s home rehabilitation program targets the urban poor, who are the population in New Orleans most affected by Hurricane Katrina. Families that return to their homes in New Orleans – rather than live in exile or in a trailer – sustain a constant, stable, healthy living environment while building their equity and regaining financial independence.
Ten years after the storm, RTNO has quickly grown into the largest home rehabilitation non-profit organization in New Orleans, completing over 500 home repair and community revitalization projects since 2005. By focusing our program in target neighborhoods , RTNO meets the needs of the communities we serve quickly and efficiently by leveraging corporate, private and public dollars, volunteer labor and help from the AmeriCorps program. We are currently focused on meeting the growing need to make homes safer through aging in place repairs, energy-efficiency repairs and moderate kitchen and bathroom repairs. These repairs strengthen neighborhoods by allowing low-income homeowners to stay in their longtime times as the age, inhibiting blight from spreading and keeping invested homeowners in place.
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