NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The City of New Orleans could end up paying a half-million dollars more than what the assessor currently says the property is worth to build a homeless shelter residents do not want.
According to Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office, the homeless population is down 80 percent in recent years, and city leaders plan to continue the trend by building a low-barrier homeless shelter in Central City to get more people into permanent housing. The shelter will house close to 100 people with mental and physical disabilities, as well as drug or sobriety issues.
The location the mayor's office picked for the shelter, 3101 Erato Street, is a block away from both the Sylvanie Williams K-8 College Prep School and the site for the new Booker T. Washington High School.
Parents do not want it near their children.
"They are worried about the safety of their kids, and it's absolutely possible that some parents decide that they don't want to send their kids to a school right next to a low-barrier homeless shelter," Sylvanie Williams administrator Ben Kleban said.
City spokesman Tyronne Walker said the shelter will not house convicted sex offenders as once feared, but he did say that people who are approved to be in the shelter will be able to come and go freely.
The other issue is the amount the city will pay for it. A contract purchase agreement is in place for the land and building for more than $750,000, according to Walker. The 2017 assessment, which is not yet certified, values the property at just $290,000. In 2016, it was assessed at $690,000.
According to the Orleans Parish Assessor's website, the 2016 assessment was done with a square footage error.
"Contract negotiations are what they are, and everybody has been in contract negotiations before. You work through those things," Walker said.
Walker is the mayor's community relations liaison for the project, and he talked with residents about their concerns Tuesday night.
Walker could not say why the city might pay the proposed amount for the piece of property that officials also admit is contaminated because it used to be a dump site.