“This is very exciting because it uses the Habitat model – building homes and communities – and takes it another step, to helping hope for the future,” said Harry Connick, Jr. “Children will grow up in the neighborhoods, in a safe and secure environment, and at the same time have the opportunity to become a part of the musical and cultural scene of New Orleans.”

New Orleans Habitat’s Musicians’ Village consists of 72 single-family homes, five elder friendly duplexes, a toddler-friendly pocket park and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.

“We believe this will help breathe life into an historic New Orleans neighborhood suitable to the return of our valuable musician families,” said Jim Pate.

The Village sits upon an 8.2 acre tract of land that was the former site of Kohn Junior High School. New Orleans Habitat for Humanity purchased the property from the Orleans Parish School immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Over 40,000 volunteers worked with Habitat construction leaders to build these homes. The project began as a response to Hurricane Katrina, a way to fight the threat to the culture of New Orleans caused by the flooding of 2005. As the scope of the project became clear, NOAHH brought in partners like Baptist Crossroads to help make it a reality.

The Village was made possible by the tireless efforts of Habitat volunteers and the sustained support from many New Orleans Habitat for Humanity donors including Dave Matthews Band, Dwayne Wade Foundation, National Association of Realtors, Phil Mickelson, New Trier High School, Texas Roadhouse, Bob and Suzanne Wright, ASI, and Baptist Crossroads.

“I have a deep sense of personal satisfaction as I see people coming and going in Musicians’ Village,” said David Crosby of Baptist Crossrounds. “The children who live there have never previously slept in a home their family owned. We helped make homeownership possible for their families. Some of those children previously lived in substandard housing. Now they go home to a clean and safe environment with all utilities working. Their economic future is significantly improved. They have a real chance at the American dream.”

Baptist Crossroads was involved with the project before it ever began. Before Hurricane Katrina, the organization committed to helping NOAHH build 40 homes. The project had yet to begin before the storm hit, and so when the Musicians’ Village project began to take shape, Baptist Crossroads was a natural fit as a partner. The ministry sent over 6,000 volunteers in the first year alone, and the organization helped sponsor 50 homes.

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music serves as the cornerstone of the Musicians’ Village and is dedicated to the education and development of the next generation of New Orleans music enthusiasts and the preservation of New Orleans unique musical heritage. The Center is named for the patriarch of the Marsalis clan, Ellis Marsalis, a modern jazz pioneer and native New Orleanian.

This is a good exemple of how the government should help put black families in the position of wealth accumulation instead of just giving them cash for everyday necessities. Black people have been denied the opportunity to accumulate wealth by Jim Crow, redlining and other ways the white community has deliberately excluded them from the opportunities whites have had for home ownership and wealth accumulation. After World War Two white veterans had the opportunity to buy homes under the GI Bill. While the GI Bill’s language did not specifically exclude African-American veterans from its benefits, it was structured in a way that ultimately shut doors for the 1.2 million Black veterans who had bravely served their country during World War II, in segregated ranks. That is why among other reasons the US government should revise a Home Ownership Bill for African Americans that would compensate them for the egregious discrimination they have faced and allow them to get themselves in the same situation that many white families have with respect to home ownership. It's only right.