Puentes New Orleans, Inc. is a non-profit community-centered organization. We were founded in April 2007 by three Latino community leaders who realized that, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Latino community was being systematically excluded from important city planning. At the time, the Latino population in the metro area had ballooned following the rebuilding of the city by workers who made the city their home. With support and guidance from Providence Community Housing, the Hispanic Apostolate Community Services of Catholic Charities, Loyola University New Orleans, Common Good, ASI Federal Credit Union, Enterprise Community Partners and Neighborworks America, Puentes began work aimed at empowering the Latino community and families to become fully integrated participants of the Greater New Orleans area.
In our early stages, Puentes intended to focus solely on developing the needed capacity to become a non-profit housing developer. Puentes needed to meet the housing needs of a Latino population that had grown from an estimated 90,000 in the seven-parish area to over 140,000. It was necessary to first focus on developing social capital, a unified Latino community-centered voice, and a pool of new Latino community leaders. Puentes succeeded in doing just this and established itself as a leading Latino organization in the New Orleans area.
Puentes has been at the forefront of organizing against, educating about, and challenging anti-immigrant laws in Louisiana. Within the first two years, we’ve implemented:
Certified first-time homebuyer workshops
Education, training, and capacity development program to tackle relations between law enforcement and the Latino community;
Eight-month voter registration campaign, and
Various educational programs on issues affecting the everyday lives of New Orleans area Latinos.
In the years that followed, we:
Implemented a program to help small businesses grow and gain capital
Held health fairs
Promoted STEM based college prep classes in public schools through our Escalera Program
Implemented LUNA (Latinos United in Action), a youth-led program that organizes, advocates, and rallies for policy changes
In March 2020 we suspended our operations due to the new limitations of COVID-19, but decided that it was our responsibility to continue to serve our community within the appropriate limitations. So in January 2021, we resumed operations remotely and have slowly begun to connect with our community once again, reaching out to the youth in both of our Escalera and LUNA programs. We are excited about what the future holds for our organization and hope that you will be a part of it!
EQUITY AND INCLUSION
Puentes New Orleans is commited to bringing people of diverse backgrounds together to collectively ensure that race, national origin, and inherited economic status are not predictors of one’s future. We envision a world in which all working families are afforded equal opportunity to reside in quality affordable housing in safe neighborhoods with thriving economies, good schools, public transportation, and health care. To us, equity is not only a moral imperative but a community development strategy that will lead to stronger and more prosperous communities for everyone.
Since 2007, Puentes has been building bridges connecting Latin American immigrants and their families to the greater New Orleans community. Puentes, meaning bridges, is dedicated to overcoming economic, racial, and cultural divides and to providing Latin American families and communities with resources, knowledge, and opportunities to thrive.