A two-story building at the corner of South Broad and General Taylor streets in Broadmoor has sat empty for nearly a decade after being flooded with more than 8 feet of water following Hurricane Katrina.
For many in the community it is an eyesore, but a nonprofit group dedicated to helping homeless women with children sees the abandoned structure as an opportunity to provide a temporary home for the city’s most vulnerable population.
Sister Mary Lou Specha, executive director of Hotel Hope, kicked off a capital campaign in April to raise more than $1 million to renovate the former home of the St. Matthias Convent at 4222 S. Broad St. As of Dec. 31, they have collected close to $600,000 including a $100,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from First NBC Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas.
Specia’s vision is to transform the 6,500-square-foot space into a facility with 13 rooms and 40 beds that will exclusively serve women with children who are living on the streets. It also will include day facilities with showers, a laundry room, child care, telephones and a computer center as well as provide clothing, meals, job counseling, life-skills training and health care.
The ultimate goal is to put these families into a position — financially, emotionally and physically — to where they can afford and maintain their own apartment, Specha said.
“By my count, there may be less than 40 emergency beds in the whole city available for homeless women with children. But the need could be as high as 250 in one night,” Specha said.
Hotel Hope, which was founded in 2010, is leasing the property from its owner, the Archdiocese of New Orleans. They hope to be open by the end of 2015, Specha said.