New Orleans Mayor’s Office issues 2020 Year-in-Review Update

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NEW ORLEANS — After an unprecedented year, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office issued a 2020 Year-in-Review Update. The review touches on COVID-19 response, economic development, and infrastructure investments.

See the full update below:

With an unprecedented year, facing numerous emergencies but remaining steadfast, Mayor LaToya Cantrell marked a year of substantial progress in the 2020 calendar year. Mayor Cantrell pointed to these accomplishments as well as highlighting the responses to these emergencies in an update to residents.

“The past year has brought us through unexpected and unprecedented challenges and devastating loss, but it has also brought us together and has allowed us to challenge ourselves to create and prepare our city for a brighter, more sustainable future,” said Mayor Cantrell. “As I look back on 2020, I am amazed by all we have accomplished, and I am looking forward to all that we will do together in 2021 and beyond. This work could not have been accomplished without the tireless efforts of the men and women that work for the City of New Orleans. My gratitude to you and all you sacrifice is endless.” 

Though this year was marked with many successes, it wasn’t without loss and hardships due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. The work done since the beginning of last year by our frontline workers, residents and businesses has been paramount to helping the City face the crises every step of the way.

Over 2020, the administration focused on and remained dedicated to five key priorities:

  • Public safety as public health
  • Investing in infrastructure
  • Quality of life
  • Economic development
  • Culture change at City Hall

PUBLIC SAFETY AS PUBLIC HEALTH

By working collaboratively and intentionally, the City’s public safety team has worked more effectively to protect our residents, reduce crime, prevent violence, increase security, assist our more vulnerable residents, improve efficiency, and more effectively respond to the number of emergencies that have challenged this City including the COVID-19 pandemic, an historic hurricane season, and a cyber-security attack.

Key accomplishments include:

COVID-19 RESPONSE

  • The Mayor’s Office raised more than $6.7 million total in philanthropic funds during the pandemic, including a rental assistance for public housing residents in the old Melpomene housing site.
  • Created the first of its kind COVID-19 Mass Feeding Program
    • Leveraged $18 million by the end of December for the program
    • 11,100 residents currently receiving meals
    • Focused on people who are high-risk, COVID-positive, or quarantining
    • More than 80 local restaurants producing food
    • Brought back more than 500 local jobs and served as a lifeline to local restaurants
  • Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families raised more than $4 million to fund COVID-19 relief and recovery services such as immigrant cash assistance, access to infant and maternal hygiene products, youth housing assistance and technology for distance learning.
  • The Office of Housing and Community Development established a Rental Assistance Program that provided more than $8.4 million in rent paid for residents in Orleans Parish, including $5.6 million from the State.
  • The Office of Housing and Community Development established the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program, with $1.5 million in funding, that assisted up to 100 landlords and stabilized housing for 500-700 households.
  • Through the Mayor’s Fund/Forward Together New Orleans, nearly $183,000 was raised for the Rental Assistance fund that helped directly prevent the eviction and homelessness of residents during the pandemic.
  • The City’s accredited economic development organization, the New Orleans Business Alliance launched the Gig-Economy Workers Relief fund and has raised $1.5 million in relief.
  • The City used money from Federal CARES Act funding under the Main Street Recovery Program for a small business grant program, through which grants of up to $15,000 could be awarded to cover COVID-19 related expenses.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE COORDINATION

  • Partnered with CEO Works to award more than 600 returning residents with $2,250 stimulus checks during COVID-19
  • Secured and allocated more than $5.7 million in the State and Federal grant funds
  • Secured $960,000 in Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) for the City of New Orleans to prevent, prepare for and respond to the pandemic

INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Over the course of 2020, the City has made great strides in modernizing our citywide infrastructure. This included activating funds from an unprecedented win of “Fair Share” funding for our critical needs through legislation and voter referendum, and rapidly completed capital projects, filled potholes, cleaned catch basins, drained lines and repaired streetlights. We know we have a long way go to, but we have set the tone and the pace to repair and maintain this city’s infrastructure.

Key accomplishments include:

  • In 2020 Capital Projects completed 25 projects at a value of $41.2 million. These projects include McCue Playground Restroom and Concessions Building; Lafitte Greenway Shelter; Parks and Parkways Greenhouses; NOFD Engine 36; Allie May Williams Multi-Service Center; OPP Docks Renovations; and the Eastshore Playground Multi-Purpose Building.
  • The Fair Share Agreement continues to evolve:
    • Structural adjustments continue to be made to produce revenue.
    • One-time disbursements made include:
      • $35,648,650 transferred to SWBNO
      • MCC Funds – $28 million (disbursed)
      • FEMA Revolver – $7.5 million (disbursed)
      • HMGP – 3 Phases – $16 million (in process)
  • The Project Delivery Finance Team (PDU) closed more than 100 projects to date, including most of the DPW Phase II FEMA projects, which will help ensure the City does not have to pay back grant funds. The department also coordinated other cost saving projects:
    • Coordination of 2020 Bond Tax Exempt sale for $300 million
    • Coordination of 2020 GOMESA Project approval for $29 million
    • PDU has provided and/or filed more than 15,000 invoices and contracts in response to grant reimbursements, project close-outs, public records requests, audits, and general program requests.
    • PDU Sustainable Infrastructure managed $208.7 million in hazard mitigation and disaster resilience projects, of which 72% are progressed to 90% design or beyond. When constructed, these projects will store more than 42.5 million gallons of stormwater.
  • DPW has issued 72 construction notices to proceed (NTPs), with an estimated value of $390 million.
    • 38 of the 72 NTP’s are within the Joint Infrastructure Recovery Response Program.
  • DPW has achieved 23 substantial completions, with an estimated value of $50 million.
    • 5 of the 23 Substantial completions were with the JIRR Program.
  • DPW currently has 76 construction projects/initiatives that are in progress, with an estimated value of $479 million.
    • 45 of the 76 projects are within the JIRR Program, estimated value of $427 million.
  • DPW instituted technology-driven management of catch basins which has resulted in marked productivity improvement — 6,175 catch basins were cleaned/inspected using the new technology in 2020.
  • DPW implemented a technology-driven management system to aid in the efficiency pothole maintenance. With this new system 35,696 potholes filled since December 2019 on more than 2773 blocks throughout the city.
  • DPW introduced a pilot program to enhance public outdoor space Downtown by creating parklets using a limited supply water filled barriers. It is the City’s intention to allow applicants to transition into permanent parklets that will require more rigorous standards for layout and materials. As a part of this pilot, the City is waiving fees for parklets and sidewalk cafes during this time to encourage business activity while allowing for COVID protocol. The pilot is through the end of 2020, with a possible extension based upon COVID-19 guidelines.
  • A “Slow Street” pilot project was implemented on Moss Street along Bayou St. John in an effort to expand space for recreation and social distancing. Public response was overwhelmingly positive.
  • Parks and Parkways, working in tandem with Capital Projects Administration and NORDC, guided the installation of stormwater retention features, 65 trees and a walking path to create the Joseph Bartholomew Walking Trail.
  • In partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, 204 new trees were installed on Claiborne and Napoleon avenues.
  • Installation of a $125,000 monument to the Warehouse musical venue via a CEA with The Warehouse Association, on Tchoupitoulas Street at Race Street.
  • Capital repairs in the amount of $7,837 were completed at the Algiers maintenance satellite facility included fence and roll-down repairs.
  • Moving New Orleans Bikes (MNOB) completed the New Orleans Citywide Bikeway Blueprint to guide both an initial 75-mile buildout and a long-term Citywide network.
  • 5 miles of new bikeways completed and under construction; 50-plus miles are scheduled for 2021.
  • MNOB secured a $400,000 U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Data Initiative grant to develop a Vulnerable User Risk Network Analysis Tool.
  • The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) secured more than $64 million in grants including:
    • $42.8 million CARES Act funding for COVID-19 response
    • $13.9 million USDOT grant for 21 replacement buses and 21 replacement paratransit vehicles
    • $5.27 million Passenger Ferry Grant to rehab the Lower Algiers car landing.
    • $550,000 HOPE Program grant for Bus Rapid Transit between the CBD and New Orleans East
    • $600,000 Bus Operator Compartment Program Grant Award to construct an operator safety compartment
    • $300,000 Mobility for All Pilot Program to provide on-demand pilot for paratransit riders.
    • Construction of the new Canal Street Ferry Terminal began with completion expected in Summer 2022.
  • Implemented 27 energy-efficiency projects at 17 facilities that reduced the City’s electric use and GHG emission by approximately 26% (5,400,000 kWh and 3,800 metric tons, respectively) and saved the City an estimated $562,000 annually on its utility bill.
  • Re-established and staffed Cemeteries Division to manage the seven (7) City-owned cemeteries. The division is focused on managing tourism in our popular cemeteries, maintenance of grounds and research ownership of abandoned tombs.
  • Improved preventative maintenance services:
    • Performed 163 quarterly inspections to date on City generators, 229 by end of year
    • Performed 138 preventative maintenance inspections on HVAC units to date, 684 by end of year
    • Increased revenue collections from rent & leases, parking and real estate counter sales by 1% compared to 3rd QTR 2019
    • Putting to work the more than $500 million in bonds voters approved in November 2019 that will be used to repair our streets and drainage lines, build green infrastructure, and develop affordable housing

QUALITY OF LIFE

We recognize that our City’s quality of life depends on myriad factors. First and foremost we know that, beyond safety and security, New Orleanians need access to affordable housing and safe, equitable transportation options. Particularly now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for so many basic resources, it is imperative that we do everything we can to provide opportunities for our people.

  • Through the Mayor’s Office of Youth & Families, the City expanded early childhood education access and doubled the investment in ECE from $1.5 million to $3 million in order to provide 200 early learning seats for income eligible families with 0-3-year-olds.
  • This year we became the third city in the country to create a “Fiscal Map,” which provides an analysis of public investments in our youth. In 2020 alone, those investments total $40 million, with a per capita investment of $361 per youth, for ages 0 to 24.
  • The City’s Finance Department uncovered more than $1 million in funds with the Board of Trusts that hadn’t been touched in almost a century.
  • The Office of Housing and Economic Development through its Rapid Re-Housing Program assisted more than 700 people and was able to transition some into permanent housing.
  • The City had approximately 525 affordable housing units under construction and approximately 800 housing units in predevelopment.
  • The City’s Office of Community and Economic Development this year has secured more than $18.5 million in new funding for affordable housing and community development projects.
  • As part of CleanUp NOLA, Sanitation cleared more than 2,000 illegal dumping sites, including major projects in the West Park Court area of Algiers and in New Orleans East. More than 36,802 waste tires were removed as all sites were cleared.
  • Increased enforcement resulted in more than 2,632 inspections by Sanitation Rangers that included 179 tire shops to ensure compliance; property owners were held accountable for ensuring they cleaned their properties. Rangers pushed for the screening of public dumpsters from public view as required.
  • Ten additional crime cameras were installed in locations with a high volume of illegal dumping in the past.
  • Sanitation modified the City’s twice-a-day collection of solid waste in the French Quarter and Downtown Development District which resulted in a cost savings of $503,544 in 2020. These costs savings will continue into 2021 and beyond at a savings of over $755,320 per year.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Cantrell Administration has focused its economic development efforts to ensure an economy that works for every New Orleanian. This means focusing on inter-generational economic development, place-based development, workforce development, maximizing public-private partnerships, and investing in our people. We have focused on reimagining the way people do business with the City and created our Office of Business and External Services (OBES) to make it easier for people to access City services.

  • The Mayor’s Office of Utilities in partnership with the Law Department successfully litigated and negotiated a $6 million franchise fee settlement from CenturyLink.
  • The Office of Economic Development (OED) in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation formed the Outdoor Dining Grant Program, which delivered $2,000 each to 50 operating outdoor dining areas in sidewalk café spaces or in off-street parking lots
  • COVID-19 Response: City supported our business community in ways large and small. OED supported our business community in accessing Small Business Administration programs, including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan, through partnerships with our Technical Assistance providers. The City also supported our Community Development Financial Institutions in doing COVID-related lending, including Goldman Sachs’ $50 million investment in Hope Credit Union to provide PPP loans for businesses not being served by other financial institutions.
  • Outdoor Dining: OED led the creation of a new parklet permit and committed over $250,000 to grants to support the creation of outdoor dining spaces in sidewalk cafes, off street parking lots, and parklets. Dozens of businesses have participated in the programs. Currently, the City is in the process of creating additional “streateries.”
  • Six Flags: After 15 years of sitting blighted and vacant, OED has issued a request for quotation (RFQ) to redevelop the Six Flags site in New Orleans East. The RFQ is looking for responses from qualified firms to act as Master Developer for the creation of a transformative redevelopment project at the site.
  • Workforce Development: OED supported the City’s workforce and the Office of Workforce Development, during these particularly trying times, including helping local workers identify opportunities to retrain or upskill to pursue new, higher-wage career pathways in priority industries.
  • OBES: OED has been a cornerstone of the creation of the new Office of Business and External Services. OED will help ensure that this reorganization will make the City a friendlier and easier place to do business.

CULTURE CHANGE

Mayor Cantrell believes in government that works better for everyone, with transparency and accountability at the heart of all our work as we seek to change the culture at City Hall. This also means looking at our culture through a sharp equity lens so that we are cultivating a more welcoming, inclusive workforce to serve all our residents. Now more than ever it is time that we bridge the divide in our city’s economy, getting people jobs that are available, advocating for living wages and ensuring they have better educational opportunities for themselves and their families.

Key accomplishments include:

  • The City’s Office of Workforce Development provided more than 1,545 new job seekers with employment and training services.
  • Office of Workforce Development employed 221 youth through the Youth Works NOLA Mayor’s Summer Employment Program.
  • Office of Workforce Development procured $3 million and was the catalyst in writing for and securing $5 million awarded from JP Morgan Chase Advancing Cities grant, which will provide training for job seekers and small businesses to support employment opportunities in the blue and green infrastructure industry sectors.
  • The Neighborhood Navigators program, worth $100,000 in grant funding, was created by a collaboration of the Office of Neighborhood Engagement and the Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD) and engaged 34 participants in the program. Neighborhood Navigators are residents trained in assisting their neighbors and fellow community members in accessing federal, state, and local COVID-response programming, as well as serving as an additional touch point to file contacts with 311 and notify City departments of pertinent concerns.
  • The Office of Neighborhood Engagement launched the CleanUp NOLA Community Impact Grants program that provided funding to neighborhood organizations to help provide different cleanup resources
  • Orleans Parish residents successfully participated in much higher numbers in the 2020 Census thanks to a broad coalition of public, private, community-based and nationally based entities that came together to encourage participation, circulate information and materials, and provide funding and resources to Census efforts. By building partnerships with local organizations, facilitating socially distanced response events, purchasing and distributing impactful promotional materials, and formulating neighborhood and population-specific strategies, Orleans Parish residents increased their participation in the Census by over 14% this year.
  • Launched Embrace the Culture Virtual Series COVID-19
    • Created a virtual platform and premiered more than 200 local artists to date in Culinary, Design/Fashion, Literary Arts & Humanities, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts & Crafts
    • Registered 80-plus artists in BRASS as Suppliers. Artists are achieving national notoriety with more than 100,000 social media interactions and international acclaim.
    • Partners include Live Nation (Fillmore + House of Blues), Creative Alliance, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Downtown Development District, New Orleans Jazz Museum, New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and Preservation Hall
  • Issued Film New Orleans COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for the City of New Orleans to allow filming to return to the city on July 1, 2020
    • To date 131 projects (16 TV series, 10 films, 16 documentaries, 89 temporary productions) have returned local expenditure on city goods and services totaling $414 million.
    • Project Power, a film shot in New Orleans, was acclaimed the most popular Netflix movie in the world on August 17, 2020.
  • Established the New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund, an economic development corporation that will support sustainable and equitable tourism and support culture bearers and the cultural economy. $1.9 million in estimated 2020 revenue.
    • Featuring local culture in the “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021” broadcast, which also helped employ 70 local production crew workers
  • Film New Orleans sponsored From “NOLA With Love” a virtual streaming event from May 1-June 1, 2020, which included 40 films, 680 total streams in eight countries (Canada, England, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and Venezuela) and 28 states. Cash payments to filmmakers totaling $5,550. 
  • The City of New Orleans has been chosen as one of “The Best Places to Live and Work” as a Moviemaker 2021 by Moviemaker Magazine. The honor will be announced in the magazine’s special Sundance Film Festival edition January 2021.

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