First Responders in Holy Cross

The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, Inc. has partnered with PRC’s Operation Comeback, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Fidelity Homestead Savings Bank, First Responders Fund, and Whitney National Bank to encourage and assist our “first responders” to purchase or renovate properties in historic Holy Cross.

The Holy Cross Historic District represents the final stanza in the eastward expansion of the old city of New Orleans to the St. Bernard Parish line. It takes its name from the Holy Cross High School, established in 1859 by the Brothers of Holy Cross as a young boys boarding school. The neighborhood sits on high ground near the river, which was once part of
several riverfront plantations. With few exceptions, the present historic building stock represents the period from 1880 – 1936.

Many of the homes in Holy Cross are owned, not rented, and it is not
uncommon to find families as residents that are three generations deep. Until Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, Hurricane Betsy, in 1965, was the only disaster prompting residents of all races to move from the area. Holy Cross lost population but, in fact, at the time of Betsy many families actually temporarily evacuated the northern section of the Lower Ninth Ward down to the higher Holy Cross.

This is a stable and mixed neighborhood with a strong sense of community. For this reason, along with its remarkable stock of historic houses, Holy Cross has long been a draw for new residents. There are also several landmarks in the neighborhood, including St. Maurice Church, the administration building at Holy Cross High School, and the two identical Steamboat houses.

The PRC first started working with the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association more than a decade ago, and in 2002 Operation Comeback began purchasing and renovating blighted properties in the neighborhood. By the time Hurricane Katrina struck, Operation Comeback had renovated five formerly blighted shotguns, and in partnership with a local bank, built two new affordable houses. Since Hurricane Katrina, Operation Comeback has sold four homes to first-time homebuyers and acquired fifteen more to renovate. Eight new construction homes are currently in the process of being built. Operation Comeback offers completely renovated historic residential housing units to any qualified buyer including, but not limited to, first responders. Some financial incentives offered on Operation Comeback
houses are associated with the purchaser’s first-time buyer status.

Numerous organizations have provided critical support for OC’s Holy
Cross efforts such as Comic Relief 2006, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Home and Garden Television, Local Initiatives Support
Corporation, the Louisiana State Department of Natural Resources, the World Monuments Fund, and the People of Saudi Arabia.

Through this partnership, First Responders, which include police officers, fire fighters and EMTs, will be able to get on the road to home ownership by
obtaining necessary credit counseling, financing, renovation assistance, and home shopping all in one place. The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, Inc., and the First Responders Fund offer homebuyer and rental assistance, allowing all first responders the opportunity to decide what assistance is right for them. Current owners of properties in need of renovation may also qualify for renovation assistance and/or guidance.

Fidelity Homestead Savings Bank and Whitney National Bank have the
ability to offer loans which may be partially or wholly forgivable at five and 10 years respectively. Homebuyer renovation assistance is available for veterans with three or more years of service, and rental assistance, on selected properties, is available for recruits with one to three years of service.