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Charity Hospital Development Plans Proposed

Erin Krall

Several proposals are being submitted to the state to revitalize the empty Charity Hospital in New Orleans. A nonprofit called “Healing Minds NOLA” is leading one effort to create a one-stop shop for mental health services.

Janet Hays is a longtime mental health care advocate, and the author of a proposal sent yesterday to the state Division of Administration. It envisions using the entire 1 million square feet of Charity – one wing for research, another for long-term psychiatric and substance abuse in-patient care. The center would be offices, preventative care and low-income housing.

“The whole building would be great, and, in fact, I don’t believe it’s enough space,” she said.

Hays says other cities, like Baton Rouge and San Antonio, Texas, have had success in similar renovation projects. She says the key is getting local and federal lawmakers together with advocates for medical services, criminal justice, homeless communities and others in mental health care.

“There is definitely some of that going on in Orleans Parish but we need to have more of that kind of cooperation happening.”   

She says corporate sponsorships are one funding source.

“There’s also private-public partnerships. There’s historic tax credits," Hays said. "There’s philanthropic money. There are a lot of possibilities.”  

In the meantime, HRI Properties is proposing a mixed use development for Charity that would feature housing, retail, medical offices and research space.

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