Another positive event that took place on the Katrina anniversary was the dedication of the 100th house completed in the Musicians’ Village. The brain child of jazz artists Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, this settlement mixes homes for purchase with some rental units to serve the special economic needs of those who express the soul of New Orleans through sound. These music stars have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to create this oasis to help fellow artists return to their beloved home and thrive.
This amazing group of brightly colored houses addresses some very important issues. First of all, as we all probably know, many musicians get paid cash under the table. As a result, many may not have the financial documentation needed to establish credit and successfully apply for traditional mortgages. The negative repercussions of this phenomenon were made worse for these musicians by the national mortgage crisis and the fact that hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced many of New Orleans’ musicians to flee their homes in droves. This led to a situation in which the most important residents for the city’s cultural life had no means to re-establishing themselves here, because they lacked the credit to rent or buy.
These homes are financed through creative methods that have allowed New Orleans’ musicians, many of whom are older masters of their craft, to either buy or rent these homes through non-traditional procedures. In the future, the project will also build on “90 lots in the surrounding Upper 9th Ward neighborhood,” according to the Habitat for Humanity Web site, providing even more low-income homes to people in need. A music educational center is also in the works. This will go a long way toward rebuilding the devastated 9th Ward, making it even better than it was before.
I cannot tell you what it was like to drive through an area dotted with blighted buildings, to turn a corner and see a sea of cottages colored like country flowers standing proudly against the gray surroundings. These homes are a beacon of hope, whose light literally glows with happy, sunny energy. I am sure that the mere sight of these candy hues will continually brighten the spirits of everybody living there, encouraging even more expansion and new development.
To support black musicians and other African American residents in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, please click here (https://secure.toolsfororgs.com/habitat-nola.org/donate/donateonline.php ).