Committee for a Better New Orleans

CBNO is a multi-racial, multi-generational community organization, a catalyst and convener, working to bring all voices to the table to address systemic issues that will help to build a better quality of life for all New Orleanians. CBNO/MAC will accomplish its mission by providing and maintaining an advocacy role that encourages the kinds of partnership, collaboration and candid conversation that reflect the interests of the citizens of New Orleans.
Dec 15, 2014

December 2014 Project Report

Latino Health Survey Release
Latino Health Survey Release

We've been wondering why we all felt so worn out around here -- then we looked back at all that has been accomplished in the last few months and realized we earned the right to feel that way!

Nothing was bigger than the release this week of the report on our Latino Community Health Survey in New Orleans, conducted in partnership with Puentes New Orleans and the New Orleans Health Department.  The findings are both deeply disturbing and cause for guarded optimism.  Among some of the more heartbreaking pieces of data:  nearly 2/3 of Latino residents in New Orleans do not have health insurance.  Roughly half have not seen a doctor in the past two years -- and nearly a quarter have never received any kind of formal health care.

The optimism comes from the fact that many of the barriers can be overcome fairly easily, with some political will and some resources.  For example, simplistic though this may sound, many New Orleans Latinos are not accessing health care simply because health facilities have no external signage to indicate that they are health facilities.  CBNO and Puentes have worked with a local sign company to develop a package where for just $1000 we can get external and internal signs made and installed -- and our City Council has agreed to waive the permit fee for the external signs.

Other solutions will involve more work -- training bi-lingual health workers, producing more information and outreach materials in Spanish (and other languages), increasing access to healthy foods and to recreation opportunities -- but none are out of reach.  The Health Department is already moving forward on several fronts, and we have begun raising funds for the signage packages and other important measures that will ultimately improve health outcomes for this vital segment of our community.

We've also had good results from our work to open up the city's budget to real community input.  We conducted a People's Budget Summit, with some 60 residents participating in a process whereby they created a People's Budget.  There were a lot of similarities to the budget proposed by Mayor Landrieu, but also some striking distinctions.  The underlying theme is that the community wants city funds invested more proactively -- libraries, job training and placement for youth, reacreation facilities, mental health care -- and less reactively in things like police and jails.  We received a good bit of very positive media coverage for the People's Budget; as part of that, we were able to make the case that the present city budget process does not allow for meaningful input and that such input would be very valuable to city decision-makers.

We also wrapped up work on the Big Easy Budget Breakdown website, which will enable anyone to compare city budgets to actual spending for the past seven years.  We will add each new year's figures as they become available.  The last piece of information from the city just arrived, and as soon as the holidays are past and people's attention is not so diverted, we will have a formal launch.  We talk a lot about how we want community input provided to government but at the same time, that input must be informed and thoughtful; this site will be an incredibly valuable tool for building community knowledge about the budget so that residents can provide that kind of quality input.

We are also nearing completion of the research related to our evaluation of the City Planning Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP), the first major piece of our larger Citizen Participation Program to be adopted by city government.  We have now surveyed more than 60 residents about their experience with the NPP, and interviewed close to 20 business owners.  After completing more of both over the next two weeks, we will begin writing up the evaluation, with recommendations for improvements to the NPP, immediately after the holidays.

Some of our attention has been slightly diverted by the fact that CBNO has been offered matching funds by a few long-time supporters for a year-end campaign.  So any contributions we receive between now and January 5 will be doubled!  We hope to get support for several of the $1000 clinic signage packages as well as general funds to help us build on all this momentum as we move into 2015.

Whatever you may be celebrating at this time of year, we hope you are able to do so with a sense of peace and joy, and to share your celebration with the people who mean the most to you.  We are so grateful for the support we have received this year and what it has enabled us to do for the city we love so much.  We are happy to have a little break for the holidays, and look forward to coming back even stronger next year!

Links:

Sep 22, 2014

September 2014 Project Report

The winding down of summer coincides with putting the finishing touches on a couple of major components of our ongoing citizen participation work -- and we're still keeping the heat on with the New Orleans answer to the Ice Bucket Challenge!

The most exciting piece is completing the report on our Latino Community Health survey.   This is part of the CPP's Latino Community of Interest pilot project, with our partner Puentes New Orleans.  The New Orleans Health Department also joined us in conducting the survey.  We've put a lot of work into the report, which we plan to release in mid-October, but the findings are clear:  for a variety of reasons, Latino residents in New Orleans face multiple obstacles to accessing health care and to other important aspects of healthy living.  The good news is that some of the problems can be fixed easily.  For example, as simplistic as this may sound, the simple lack of Spanish-language signage on the exterior of health clinics prevents many residents from knowing where to get health care.  We are already working to raise funds to place both exterior and interior dual-language signage on as many health clinics as possible; we can do an entire clinic for just $1000.  We expect to have the full Health Survey report posted on our website in a few more weeks.

We are also nearing completion of our evaluation of the City Planning Commission Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP), the first major piece of our full Citizen Participation Program to be adopted by the city of New Orleans.  Overall the NPP is really doing its job of preserving neighborhood character while promoting quality economic development.  It is, however, only a first step towards meaningful and inclusive community engagement throughout New Orleans.  The city is on the verge of a major update to its Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO), which is where the NPP legislation sits, and we have made a few initial recommendations to improve it, such as increasing the minimum notification time for NPP meetings, setting a maximum distance for holding these meetings from the property site, and increasing residents' access to the meeting reports.  We are confident these recommendations will be accepted as the new CZO moves forward, and both the Planning Commission and the City Council have told us that they will be very willing to consider further amendments to the new CZO once our full report is completed, which we expect will be before the end of the year.

We're also still working on connecting New Orleans residents to the city budgeting process, and will be having a major community event on October 8.  We are partnering with numerous organizations to provide information on every aspect of the budget.  The real fun, though, will be engaging residents in a process to develop the People's Budget, which we will release at the same time the mayor releases his budget.

We continue to move ahead with other key aspects of the CPP work, including the neighborhood boundary mapping project and our new resource publication, the Residents Guide to City Government.  All work and no fun, though, makes for a dull project, so we decided to spice things up (literally) with the New Orleans answer to the Ice Buck Challenge:  the NOLA Heat Challenge!  Check it out at www.vimeo.com/102070194.

The seasons change, but nothing changes our focus on creating every possible opportunity for meaningful civic engagement in New Orleans.  This work only happens because of the support we get from people like you; on behalf of all of us who are involved with all of these projects, thanks so much for keeping it going!

Jul 3, 2014

July 2014 Project Report

There is a myth that in New Orleans in summer everything slows down.  We don't know the origin of that myth, but it sure isn't CBNO:  we've just released our new Blight Resource Guide, our Latino Community Health Survey report is almost completed, we just completed neighborhood mapping in another Planning District, and work continues apace on the NPP evaluation.

The Blight Resource Guide is a product of the Housing Community of Interest pilot project of the Citizen Participation Program, in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance.  One thing we want to demonstrate with this pilot is how the Communities of Interest -- a groundbreaking new concept in Citizen Participation Programs -- can not only bring new people into the civic engagement process, but also be a resource to neighborhood groups.  The Blight Guide is a perfect example of this.  It serves as a compendium of public sector, nonprofit and private sector resources that are available to individuals, neighborhoods and community groups as they seek to take the fight against blight into their own hands.  Since New Orleans has at least 30,000 blighted properties within the city limits, enabling people to take action towards remediating properties that are impacting their daily lives is a major accomplishment.  The Blight Resource Guide can be downloaded from our website, www.cbno.org, in the Newsroom section; or from the Guide's own site, www.nolablightguide.com.

The Latino Community Health Survey is a project of our other Community of Interest pilot, in partnership with Puentes New Orleans.  The New Orleans Department of Health is also partnering in this.  The purpose is to get a much better understanding of the primary health issues and needs, and barriers to receiving health care, faced by New Orleans' fastest-growing population segment.  The report contains numerous detailed recommendations for addressing the Survey findings, and the Department of Health has indicated that it will begin implementing those recommendations that pertain to its work rapidly.  We have already received support from the Chevron Corporation to begin implementing additional recommendations.  Given that close to half of the Survey respondants indicated that they have received no health care at all in at least two years -- and in many cases, much longer -- moving from information to action is imperative, and we are very pleased to see this happening so quickly.  This project will result in improved outcomes for New Orleans' Latino residents for many years to come.

The Neighborhood Boundary Mapping work continues to move forward, though not as quickly as we might wish.  It is troubling to encounter sections of the city where there is no history at all of neighborhood organization, or even of any real neighborhood identity.  Not surprisingly, these areas tend to be under-resourced and plagued with numerous urban ills.  It is also frustrating when geographically proximate areas want nothing to do with including their neighbors.  Nonetheless, we just completed the Planning District 5 map, and have five more districts in the works.

Finally, we continue working on the evaluation of the City Planning Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP).  As we've noted before, this is the first major piece of our Citizen Participation Program proposal to be adopted by the city, and it is critical that we get a clear understanding of how it is functioning.  The early results indicate that, while a few tweaks would be useful, it is truly serving its dual purposes of preserving neighborhood character and promoting quality economic development.  We have seen instances where proposals that simply were bad ideas were denied after strong and clear neighborhood opposition; we have also seen instances where proposals that met with such opposition initially were ultimately approved after the developer and the residents worked together to find mutually acceptable solutions.  It is really, really rewarding to see this process working after a decade of pushing to bring it to fruition in New Orleans.

It's great to see this kind of progress happening in our work, and we are already in the early phases of our next publication, a Community Guide to how city government works.  Needless to say, we are extremely grateful to all of our supporters; without you, none of this would happen.  We hope everyone has a happy summer -- just don't look for it to be a slow summer here at CBNO!

donate now:

Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
    give
  • $25
    give
  • $50
    give
  • $100
    give
  • $150
    give
  • $200
    give
  • $500
    give
  • $5,000
    give
  • $10
    each month
    give
  • $25
    each month
    give
  • $50
    each month
    give
  • $100
    each month
    give
  • $150
    each month
    give
  • $200
    each month
    give
  • $500
    each month
    give
  • $5,000
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of Committee for a Better New Orleans

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about Committee for a Better New Orleans on GreatNonProfits.org.