The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® (NOMAR) is no stranger to the grant programs of the REALTOR® Party. Early in 2014, it used an Independent Expenditure Grant to support the re-election of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who had made great strides reducing blight and increasing access to affordable housing in his first term. Later that same year, with a Smart Growth Action Grant, it sponsored a Better Block redevelopment project that was a highlight of the annual meetings of the National Association of REALTORS®.
Then, early in 2015, Kelli Walker, NOMAR’s Senior Vice President of Governmental Relations, found herself at a meeting where the Chief of the New Orleans Police Department was talking about the benefits of SafeCam, a network of private security cameras on private property, and the fact that the city lacked sufficient funding to install cameras where they were most needed. The SafeCam initiative, administered by the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation, is a voluntary registry of security cameras that enables police detectives to identify likely sources of crime footage, while the trail is still hot. The program needed a way to engage the participation of more security camera owners—and it needed more security cameras.
“It was an ‘Aha! moment,’” says Walker. “I thought to myself, ‘There’s got to be money in the REALTOR® Party for this!’” She approached the Chief of Police and proposed, point-blank, “Let’s figure this out.” Applying for a Game Changer Grant, Walker cited the city’s notoriously high crime rate, and the effect it was having, not just on public safety and morale, but on property values and the viability of selling homes in certain New Orleans neighborhoods.
NOMAR sought and received a $15,000 Game Changer Grant to launch a grassroots promotion of the SafeCam initiative to its members, and to provide for the installation of more high-definition cameras through the city’s Adopt-a-Block program; in involving its membership at the grassroots level, NOMAR is also taking the opportunity to engage REALTORS® in conversations about crime and safety on the job. Not content to stop there, the association used the grant as a catalyst to spur its members and the public to meet its “100 Camera Challenge,” with a goal of installing a greater critical mass of surveillance devices throughout the city. “The homeowners who are in greatest need of cameras don’t have the resources to buy them, so it’s up to the wider community to step up and help,” says Walker, who is encouraged by the response to NOMAR’s challenge. “There’s no reason we have to stop at one hundred!” she adds.
On January 14, 2016, NOMAR held a press conference with the New Orleans Police Department and the Police & Justice Foundation to announce that the grant was used to purchase and install 34 high-definition security cameras in the most vulnerable areas of the city. “Our members are really excited about it,” notes Walker. “It’s a different way for REALTORS® to make a positive impact on a community, and a real public service. We are so grateful to the grant committee for their support of our endeavor.”
To learn more about how REALTORS® in New Orleans are helping to combat crime, increase safety and improve property values in their city, contact Kelli Walker, Senior Vice President of Governmental Relations of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS®, at 504-274-0705. The press release issued by the New Orleans Police Department detailing the association’s game-changing support can be found online at http://nola.gov/nopd/press-releases/2016/20150114-new-orleans-metropolitan-association-of-r/.