B.W. Cooper Apts Neighborhood Snapshot
Census 2000 Data Tables: People & Household Characteristics, Housing & Housing Costs, Income & Poverty, Transportation, Employment, Educational Attainment, Immigration & Language, Disabilities, Neighborhood Characteristics
B.W. Cooper, formerly known as Calliope, is considered by many to be a national model of how the quality of life in a housing development can be improved when it is tenant-managed.
Excerpts from the B.W. Cooper Resident Management Corporation Management Plan
The B.W. Cooper Housing Development was built between 1939 and 1941 and initially named the Calliope Housing Development. Although there was always some sort of loosely knit resident assocation present at Cooper, it was not until the 1970s that resident leadership emerged as a force in management decision making for the development.
Cooper resident management training was first funded in the late 1970s, as part of a demonstration project. The [initial] program was ... basically a positive example of cooperation between resident groups, well run PHAs and other entities. The ...demonstration project ended nationally because of lack of direction, commitment and resources, and a similar program was not provided again in New Orleans until 1986.
In 1985, the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise was awarded a $1.9 million grant by Amoco Foundation to provide training and technical assistance to 12 resident groups around the country. [Subsequently] B.W. Cooper applied to HUD for resident management training in 1988 and was awarded the maximum amount of money in grant form.
Although starting with little more than determination and desire, the members of the RMC [Resident Management Corporation] Board have undergone the most extensive training of any HANO resident group. In addition, the current Board of Directors of the RMC has extensive experience in community affairs. More than half of the Board members have been members for over 10 years and have been involved in all the training that has been provided during the period.
On June 30, 1995, the B.W. Cooper Resident Management Corporation, based on the will of its people, entered into a formal agreement with the Housing Authority of New Orleans to assume management of [the entire development]. For both Cooper and the Housing Authority of New Orleans, this was a landmark effort to provide the foundation for resident self-sufficiency in public housing and was a much heralded action. In September of 1998, another plateau was reached when the RMC Board assumed full management of the Cooper properties.
Who was B.W. Cooper?
B.W. Cooper was significant in the lives of the residents of this housing development because he demonstrated a long term commitment to the residents by working for HANO for 33 years and by serving on several civic and social organizations until his death in 1974. At the dedication ceremony changing the name of Calliope to B.W. Cooper Apartments in May 1981, Ms. Mildred Taylor, president of the new Tenant Management Corporation, summarized residents feelings: He did an oustanding job in making Calliope a decent plave to live, which the residents have never forgotten.
Another pioneer in the resident management movement was Viney Reynolds. It was Ms. Reynolds who pushed the Calliope residents to make their second attempt toward full resident management. And she encouraged them to participate in the training that would teach them to manage instead of teaching them to be managed.
Highlights of the housing developments history
In the depths of the Great Depression, many families became homeless and many others were at risk of homelessness. Nationwide, there was great concern about this situation, which led to the passage of the United States Housing Act of 1937. The Housing Act, also known as the Wagner Bill, instituted the United States Housing Authority within the Department of the Interior. Its mission was to provide public housing for low-income families. The Housing Authority was to contract with local housing officials to construct dwellings.
In 1937, New Orleans became the first city in the United States to benefit under the Wagner Act. Calliope was the fourth of six low-rent public housing developments in New Orleans that were funded by the Wagner Bill. Calliope Housing Project originally consisted of 690 dwellings and follows the traditional site planning and architectural principles for housing projects. At the time of first occupancy, in 1941, rentals for the housing projects, based on income, were from $8.25 a month for a one bedroom apartment to $22.00 a month for a three bedroom.
At one time Calliope residents were low-income, working class families. It was the exodus of industry from the inner city that plunged the Calliope residents into even greater poverty. Subsequent white flight meant that todays residents are primarily African American. In 1949, a gymnasium was added at Broad and Calliope Streets. In 1954, an expansion consisting of 860 new units was completed.
The B.W. Cooper Development, with 1,546 units on 56 acres of land, is the third largest housing development in Louisiana and it is the largest tenant-managed housing development in the country. The Resident Management Corporation (RMC), through rigorous training and hard work, has succeeded in emulating a Class A property/asset management corporation, with the distinguishing feature that they perform their function with significantly more sensitivity to the needs of the residents. For example, they place vacant units back on the market expeditiously, they strive to complete 100% of emergency work orders within 24 hours, and through their Office of Resident Initiatives, the RMC has raised money to provide business and job opportunities to residents, along with job training, day care, and teen pregnancy prevention programs.
A sampling of ongoing programs in the community
Recreate New Orleans offers year-round basketball and arts and craft programs in the communitys Rosenwald Gym. This project serves the youth of the community, both by providing supervised recreation and positive role models and mentors.
In 2000, the NFL donated the Youth Education Town to the community. It is a newly constructed 7,000 square-foot facility equipped with two high-tech computer labs, spacious classrooms and counseling offices. The YET offers year-round services during the day, after school, evenings, Saturday and summer for youths ages 7-17 and adults. YET members have unlimited access to the facility from 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday -Saturday. Activities include academic enhancement, computer education, life skills, social services, out-of-school suspension and sports & recreation.
The community recently
inaugurated the Viney Reynolds Parent/Child Development Center
to provide day care services for residents.
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Last modified: August 20, 2003