Out of Deep Waters: Jericho Road expands from house building to community building

By Mary Frances Schjonberg and Matthew Davies
Posted Sep 1, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – New Orleans, Louisiana] Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative grew out of the ruins on Hurricane Katrina and is going strong 10 years later, albeit with a bigger mission.

Eighty percent of the residents of Central City, the neighborhood behind Christ Church Cathedral, which faces the upscale Garden District, were renters when Katrina struck. Landlords received no government assistance to rebuild. “Low-income folks in this neighborhood didn’t have any homes to come back to,” said Holly Heine, Jericho Road’s director of operations and communications.

Executive Director Nicole Barnes said Jericho Road has realized that “you can’t just build houses; you have to build a community.”

That community building includes not only forming neighborhood associations that help residents get to know their neighbors and learn how to advocate for themselves, it involves reclaiming blighted properties and it also involves helping the many first-time homeowners develop the skills that will allow them to sustain their ownership for as long as they desire, Barnes explained.

“The arc of ministry has been amazing,” said the Very Rev. David du Plantier, Christ Church Cathedral’s dean.

This video is the fifth in a weeklong series of Episcopal News Service coverage. Other videos and stories are here.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg and Matthew Davies are editor/reporters for the Episcopal News Service.


Comments (3)

  1. Marylin Day says:

    When the Episcopal Church Women selected Jericho Road as their charity for the Triennial a few years ago, the money was not used in the agreed manner. It was to build one home (fundraising goal) and let the ECW communicate and relate to the new homeowner. It was never confirmed what the actual funds were used for in this charity. I am sure it was for something needed but when a grant purpose is discussed and agreed upon, all parties should comply. That is “best practices.’

    1. The Very Rev David duPlantier says:

      Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative was indeed honored to be supported
      by the National Episcopal Church Women. Sponsoring a single home was one of the
      ideas initially explored with the ECW leadership, but in the end it was decided
      that the funds required to build one home were more than they could commit to
      raising. In order to impact as many homebuyers as possible the ECW decided that
      funds raised would go to support gap financing for homebuyers in need.
      On July 13, 2009, in my address to the ECW Triennial meeting in Anaheim I said: ” I am
      pleased to announce today, that your contributions will form the initial corpus
      of the Jericho Road American Dream Fund. This fund will bring the dream of home
      ownership to many low-wealth families by filling the gap between the price of
      the home, and the loan amount for which the homebuyers have qualified.”
      The ECW set a goal of $110,000 and received donations totaling
      $74,995.86. During this time Jericho Road provided soft second mortgages to 4
      families in the amount of $169,186 using funds from the ECW campaign in
      addition to other donations.

      In order to ensure that there is no ambiguity in this matter, Jericho
      Road has spoken to the immediate past ECW president, the Rev Deacon Nancy R. Crawford who confirms that Jericho Road’s use of ECW funds was compeltely consistant with the ECW Board’s intentions.

  2. Mollie Williams says:

    When I first came in contact with Jericho I was very impressed with their stated mission and their staff. In an effort to support them I asked for materials that I could share with my family. Two e-mails and two phone calls later I had received nothing.

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