Rebuilding and Revitalizing in the City of New Orleans, Louisiana
Since 2010, The Cloudburst Group has been providing a wide scope of technical assistance to the City of New Orleans to increase the reach and impact of their housing, homeless, and community development programs.
The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and Rita on New Orleans resulted in a significant loss of housing infrastructure in the City. The damages created an influx of emergency resources to manage, leaving the City with several systemic and capacity challenges that limited their ability to effectively manage and implement their Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), their HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), and their homelessness programs. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assigned The Cloudburst Group to address these cross-cutting challenges, beginning with a College of Experts Direct Technical Assistance (TA) assignment in 2010 and a National 2009 Homeless Community Development Technical Assistance assignment.
The Cloudburst Group was brought in to help the City with: coordinating the approach between HUD and non-HUD funded programs; building a cohesive short-term plan to target funds effectively; strengthening information and knowledge around Community Planning and Development (CPD) program regulations for existing and new programs, and; gaining operative management and nonprofit oversight of financial systems and processes that support timely expenditure of funds and prompt payment to subrecipients.
The Cloudburst Group’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing (HPRP) TA team assisted the City and UNITY of Greater New Orleans (a Continuum of Care Program lead and HPRP umbrella subgrantee) to modify their invoicing approval procedure to facilitate timely payment to recipients. Simultaneously, another TA project was underway to assist the City with consistent reporting of project activities and timeliness of expenditures of HOME funds.
The Cloudburst Group continues to provide TA to New Orleans in many capacities to work on short- and long-term goals to revitalize the City. Much success has been achieved in building the capacity of the City and its nonprofit partners to more effectively manage and administer their HUD funded programs and progressively work on more complex and complicated challenges. The Cloudburst Group has helped the City to leverage CPD resources with other Federal, State, and private resources to stretch dwindling formula program allocations, such as CDBG and HOME. Over time, the City has received fewer monitoring findings as they have better trained staff and ensured compliance with implementation of more detailed policies and procedures. This has improved the tangible reach and impact of their HPRP, Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH), Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grants programs.
With all TA efforts in New Orleans, The Cloudburst Group addressed challenges systematically and focused on continuously applying the work and lessons learned across programs to ensure the City was putting in place systemic changes that could be sustained over time.
Specific key achievements from working with the City under various contracts* include:
- Facilitating the creation of a 10-Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness
- Supporting the development of a cutting-edge HOME Notice of Funding Availability targeted to expand funding to end homelessness using an innovative funding model
- Increasing expenditure rates of key HUD funded programs, including the Homelessness Prevention, Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) funds
- Increasing the reliability of Homelessness data through updated methodologies to required Point-in-Time Counts and for use of data from Homeless Management Information Systems
- Supporting compliance with new requirements under the HEARTH Act
- Developing an internal project tracking management tool across department divisions
Developing a framework for a comprehensive housing and community development strategy, articulated in submission of their Consolidated Plan
*The tasks and activities have been undertaken on behalf of HUD through various vehicles: College of Experts, Community Development Technical Assistance 2009, OneCPD 2010 and 2011/12, Homeless Management Information System TA, SNAPS 2010 Homeless/HPRP TA, and HEARTH TA.