Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association (NENA)

The Mission and Vision

NENA’s mission is to play a vital role in our neighborhood’s redevelopment. We implement sustainable projects and programs in decent and affordable housing, economic development and education with clear community involvement and direction. Its Board of Directors includes seven members, all of whom live, work, or worship in the Lower Ninth Ward.” [1]
NENA utilizes and innovative resident-based approach to the comprehensive rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward, providing services and implementing sustainable programs in community outreach, case management, design and construction administration, home and school rebuilding, and economic development.” [2]

History & Background

The Lower Ninth Ward Empowerment Network Association, also known as NENA, was created in the spring of 2006 in order to help reshape life in the Lower Ninth Ward after Katrina. [3] Patricia Jones, the founder of NENA believed that the way to recover from such a hardship is through the community. She has become a major leader within community organizations to resolve the problems created by Katrina; as well as the “institutional neglect and disinvestment” that was present long before the storms hit. [4] The Community Land Trust organization provides a long term recovery plan that helps the Lower Ninth Ward rebuild as a community. NENA focuses on helping the residents help themselves. Through case management services, residents of the Lower Ninth are able to design, finance, and rebuild their very own homes. NENA gives homeowners their independence back. This particular nonprofit is successful because it uses a process that is “comprehensive, sustainable, and focused on building local capacity.” [5]

Unlike many other rebuild organizations, NENA focuses on more than just physical rebuilding of buildings; it aims to rebuild the community as a whole. NENA does outreach programs to connect and provide information to current, as well as displaced, members of the community. It organizes volunteers and donations given to the Lower Ninth Ward; it provides legal help and management services to residents; it helps run small businesses; and NENA rebuilds homes with forgivable loans and inexpensive labor, often the members of the community. [6] The nonprofit is able to provide all of these services to the people living within the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans with only a 17 member staff. [7] The Board of Directors consists of seven members who are personally connected to the Lower Ninth Ward to ensure true, honest intentions. Because NENA has so few employees, it relies on volunteers, members of the community, and its strong connections with other organizations which allow the organization to have the strength and resources of a much larger nonprofit. [8]


Because of NENA’s small permanent staff, the organization is always in need of volunteers to bring the Lower Ninth Ward back to life. The work the volunteers partake in is divided into four categories. NENA needs four types of people in order to help their nonprofit function. First, professionals are needed. Lawyers, executives, and people with medical expertise are asked to share their time and services to the organization and residents of the Lower Ninth Ward. The second type of volunteer needed is someone who has experience with building and construction. These people would be responsible for helping with the majority of the home building and teaching others. The third section of volunteers needed is basically anyone without skill that wants to help build. This group helps with the basic, simple rebuilding of the house through activates like painting and cleaning up. The fourth and final category of volunteering partakes in office work. By manning the phone and passing out flyers, these volunteers do a lot to help run the nonprofit behind the scenes. [9]


Community Outreach
NENA connects and organizes Lower Ninth Ward residents, encouraging and fostering community participation in the revitalization of the Lower Ninth Ward. NENA conducts outreach through block captains, canvassing, community meetings, emails, flyer distribution, public service announcements and word of mouth. NENA serves to advocate for local residents to engage with their neighborhood and be apart of recovery. [10]

Community Meetings
NENA hosts monthly community meetings that all are welcome to attend. This summer they have hosted guests from the Regional Transit Authority, The Red Cross and United Way. These meetings serve as an opportunity for community members to voice their concerns and share their triumphs with the neighborhood. It is also a place for residents to gather and learn about programs and initiatives taking place in the Lower Nine. Guest speakers inform attendants on anything from hurricane preparedness to new bus routes. [11]

Economic Development
NENA assists businesses seeking start-up in the Lower Ninth Ward with filing registration documents, researching insurance assistance, marketing/sales information, and printed materials for marketing. They also work with individuals seeking employment and assist in resume preparation and job search. [12]

Disaster Relief
NENA works with many community partners in ensuring disaster relief and preparedness. Their website offers a referral page and links to contact information for partners who specialize in different aspects of relief. NENA also works to ensure Lower Ninth Ward residents are knowledgeable and ready when a hurricane may hit. NENA holds meetings to create community evacuation plans and disseminates this information door to door in times of imminent threat. [13]

Design Studio
The Lower 9th Ward Design Studio at NENA provides pro bono on-site architectural, construction administration, and permitting assistance to residents looking to rebuild their homes. The Studio works closely with NENA’s case management services and supports both rehabilitation and new construction projects. The Studio assists with property assessments, building design, preliminary cost estimating, contractor identification, and the ongoing administration of construction work. In addition, the Design Studio committed to maintaining sustainable design standards for the community. [14]

Housing Counseling
NENA is a Certified Housing Counseling Agency with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. NENA’s trained Housing Counselors provide assistance with mortgage loan pre-qualification, soft-second mortgage loans, bond money with closing assistance, credit counseling, financial fitness, pre and post budget counseling, homelessness prevention and loss mitigation services to avoid foreclosure. NENA also encourages and refers residents to the Housing Counseling Department homebuyer-training classes in order to encourage smart and calculated decision making in the Lower Ninth. [15]

Housing Development
NENA’s approach to housing development encourages the clustering of widespread home redevelopment around the rebuilding of schools, libraries, and community space in the Lower 9th Ward. NENA is creating a redevelopment plan and forming partnerships with development entities to begin the rebuilding of housing and key community institutions. NENA’s initial target areas focus on the reopened Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology, and is now looking at the potential redevelopment of the Alfred Lawless High School site as a Health Academy, library, and civic space. [16]

Community Land Trust
NENA has adopted the Community Land Trust (CLT) model in order to offer affordable new home construction, aiding in neighborhood stabilization and land stewardship. These homes are permanently affordable and energy efficient. Various floor plans are offered, and the designs complement the neighborhood’s existing architectural character.

Cultural & Economic Impact

NENA is able to benefit the culture and economy of the Lower Ninth Ward through the services it provides. By assisting people to become homeowners once again, it restores the faith and hope people once had before the storm hit. The entire culture of the community will shift when people begin to take pride in the place they live again. They will no longer be living in a trailer, underpass, or house; they will be living in a home. Community Land Trusts such as NENA also work to “preserve the character of existing neighborhoods” by attempting to keep the current housing in communities rather than completely rebuilding. [17]

The economic impact of NENA is also great. Typically, a house is every American’s greatest asset, but due to the misuse of public funding, the majority of the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward cannot afford their own house. Many people that live in the Lower Ninth Ward rent homes, which takes away the opportunity to build assets. Community Land Trusts help solve the problems of the low ownership in low economic areas. Because of land owned by CLTs such as NENA is available to benefit the community, people of the lower classes are able to afford their own homes. The typical house in the Lower Ninth Ward is worth about $162, 194. [18] Due to CLTs, residents on average, only have to pay from $81,097 to $129,755 for the homes. NENA works to counter the rapid increase of housing prices through cost effectiveness of investments. [19] NENA ensures affordability and success for both parties involved when a home changes ownership. The nonprofit has a huge impact on the Lower Ninth Ward economy because it provides people with assets they previously would never have a chance to obtain. NENA is also able to help the economy of the Lower Ninth Ward through its Economic Development program. This program aims at supporting small, local businesses, developers and contractors. [20] By providing assistance in filing documents, marketing, and insurance, NENA is helping small businesses that previously didn’t have a chance to prosper in such a hard time. This brings money not only to the individual, but the entire community.

Similar Organizations

1. St. Bernard Project (http://www.stbernardproject.org)
2. Rebuilding Together New Orleans (http://www.rtno.org/about-us)
3. Youth Rebuilding New Orleans (yrno.com)
4. Lowernine.org (lowernine.org)

Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward

NENA is one of many organizations that have worked to restore the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. As part of a larger study of the impact and networks of of non-profits in 2013 (please see Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward for more details), we can see that this organization excels in the following areas:


1. Access to Consumers regardless of ability to pay
Many of NENA’s services are aimed towards those that would otherwise not have the funds to obtain them. Design services, counseling services and community speakers are available for free. They also provide collective goods such as affordable housing, disaster relief plans, and redevelopment plans.

2. Provisions of Collective Goods
NENA provides collective goods through public services such as community meetings and disaster relief and evacuation information. They are very active in information activities

3. Opportunities to Volunteer.
NENA appreciates any volunteers that wish to offer their services. They also help to distribute volunteers to other Lower Nine organizations who have projects and jobs they can work on.

Participation in Information Sharing

When we analyze NENA, based on its extent of participation in information sharing activities, we see they are active in 6 ways.

1. Education
NENA educates residents through their economic development program, housing counseling, and community meetings.

2. Research
They engage in research through their housing development program, working to find the best solution for public and private development in the neighborhood.

3. Capacity Building- NENA works in capacity building by encouraging and leading residents to home-buyer training classes and holding community meetings to give a place for residents to voice their opinions.

4. Networking
NENA is very active in networking with other organizations in the neighborhood and the city. They have direct connections with 5 other organizations in this study (CSED, CAPSTONE, Common Ground Relief, Sierra Club and Lower Ninth Ward Village) along with good relationships with other Lower Ninth institutions and numerous organizations outside of the neighborhood.

5. Awareness Raising
NENA is very dedicated to awareness raising. Their community outreach initiatives seek to inform residents of the Lower Ninth to activities and happening in their community.

6. Social Change
NENA is working towards social change as it supports environmental sustainability and green building as well as initiatives which are finding new ways to make housing affordable.

Works Cited

  • “Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association” 2011.
  • “Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association” 2011.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, 2011, http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1.
  • NYRAG Voices From the Front Lines” 2007.
  • NYRAG Voices From the Front Lines” 2007.
  • “Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association” 2011.
  • “Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association” 2011.
  • Lower Ninth Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association, 2011,“http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, 2011, “http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, August 16th 2013, “http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, August 16th 2013,“http://www.9thwardnena.org/community_meeting_updates_”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, August 16th 2013,“http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, August 16th 2013,“http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, August 16th 2013,“http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, August 16th 2013,“http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association, August 16th 2013,“http://www.9thwardnena.org/mission_1”.
  • “Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association” 2011.
  • “Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood in New Orleans, La 70117 detailed profile” 2011.
  • “Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association” 2011.
  • “Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Network Association” 2011.

This page was last modified on 16 August 2013, at 02:08

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