NEW ORLEANS -- The new mixed income 'Faubourg Lafitte' is taking shape along Orleans Avenue in the 6th Ward of New Orleans.

Friday, U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the first 50 units are ready for occupancy.

'It's not just about recovery,' said Donovan. 'It is about revitalization. It is about building that shining city on the hill that all of you, everyone one of you in this room is committed to building.'

Gone are the stoic looking brick buildings that housed families for decades in the old Lafitte public housing development.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the decision to raze it, along with the B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete and the St. Bernard complexes. All of them were damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Former residents worried there would be no affordable housing left in the city. Lafitte Tenant Association President Emelda Paul said the new development should help allay those fears.

'They have been having a little doubt for the longest, so now seeing is believing and some of them are moving in and I'm so happy for them,' said Paul.

The new homes are primarily single-family cottages, shotgun-style singles and doubles, all with a feeling of old New Orleans.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Lafitte is an example of creating something new while preserving the city's culture.

'At the end of the day it's about giving people a safe place to live, so they can put their head on their pillow at night and make sure their children are safe and make sure they have an opportunity for a great job,' said Landrieu.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., hopes the new Lafitte will help bring families who left after Katrina back home.

'It's a better environment for children, for families,' said Richmond. 'I think the design is something that people thought about for a long time.'

'I feel great about it,' said Paul. 'I'm excited about it. You don't even have that old vision any more. You see this new vision that's coming about.'

Eight families got the keys to their new homes in Faubourg Lafitte.

The Housing Authority of New Orleans hopes to have 1500 families living in the development by 2015.

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