Raisin’ the Roof
Keeping our music alive - bringing our musicians home, helping them find safe, affordable housing.
The Raisin’ the Roof home ownership program was created to help the residents of south Louisiana — especially musicians — become home–buyers by covering closing costs.
In the post–Katrina context, Raisin’ the Roof is bringing our musicians home by making rental apartments affordable and clearing obstacles to home ownership.
COMMUNITY DAY OF SERVICE
In 2009, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation and radio station WWOZ launched a Community Day of Service, a work day for volunteers during Jazz Fest. Volunteers from around the world joined board members and staff of the Jazz & Heritage Foundation to help build homes in Habitat For Humanity’s Musicians Village.
The 2010 Community Day of Service will be held on Wednesday, April 28 – between Jazz Fest weekends.
Thank you to all who have signed up to volunteer. We have reached our limit on the number of volunteers we can accept, and registration is now closed. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (504) 558-6103.
The Foundation used part of its Raisin’ the Roof funding to provide a large sponsorship to one of our partner organizations, Sweet Home New Orleans, which provides various services to musicians – including housing assistance, health care referrals, social work, equipment replacement and more.
Two–thirds of New Orleans’ 4,500 musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, and Social Aid & Pleasure Club members rented their homes before the storm, and even some homeowners have been forced to rent temporarily while they wait for federal disaster assistance and complete renovations. The cost of renting in New Orleans remains about 30% higher than before the storm.
Consequently, rental assistance is by far the most prevalent housing need in our music community.
With funding from the Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Sweet Home administers a rental subsidy program that makes it easier for our musicians to come home and find an affordable place to live.
To apply, contact Sweet Home New Orleans at (504) 943-9671. Or visit them online at www.sweethomeneworleans.org.
Another major issue for New Orleans musicians is qualifying for home ownership. Many of our artists, working in a cash-based industry, have not kept the necessary records to document their incomes – and, as a result, have difficulty obtaining a mortgage.
After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Area Habitat For Humanity partnered with Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. to establish the Musicians Village – an area in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans where new homes have been built for musicians and others who sustain our culture.
Unfortunately, some of our musicians have been unable to meet the criteria to qualify for a Habitat mortgage. In many cases, old debts have damaged their credit histories.
That’s where the Jazz & Heritage Foundation stepped in.
To help musicians with bad credit histories qualify for home ownership, the Foundation has partnered with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, Total Community Action and the Neighborhood Development Foundation to establish a pilot program to eliminate old debt and repair clients’ credit ratings.
With a carefully measured approach, the Foundation is requiring musicians to provide a substantial sum of their own money, and then complete a 12–week home buyer training course, a 12–week credit counseling class and 350 hours of volunteer community service. After that, the Foundation works with the Neighborhood Development Foundation and Total Community Action to help clients retire old debts, enabling the client to close on a Habitat home.
It’s a lengthy process, one that helps to ensure that clients have the will as well as the means to qualify for the low–cost mortgages on one of the new homes being built by New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.
To date, more than 10 New Orleans musicians have completed the program and are now proud home owners in the Musicians Village. The Foundation is proud to have helped these individuals who have proven their determination to help themselves.
AN ONGOING MISSION
Although the Musicians Village is largely complete, many New Orleans musicians still need help to become home owners.
New Orleans Area Habitat For Humanity is building new houses in New Orleans at a rate of 100 per year. The Jazz & Heritage Foundation remains ready to help those musicians who need assistance to qualify for home ownership through the Habitat program.
Those musicians interested in becoming home owners through the program should call New Orleans Area Habitat For Humanity at (504) 861-2077 and ask for the Family Services department. They will be counseled on how to apply.
For those who don’t immediately qualify under Habitat’s criteria, Habitat will refer them to the Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Raisin’ the Roof program. We will counsel those individuals on how to restore their credit rating, and what we can do to help.
As New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina progresses, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation is working hard to make sure our musicians can forget what it means to miss New Orleans.