Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce
A conversation with the Queen Diva about her partnership with NOAHH.
In May 2016, NOAHH and Big Freedia, star of FUSE network hit show Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, began a partnership to raise awareness of affordable housing and financial literacy. She and NOAHH Executive Director Jim Pate spoke about her partnership and what they have learned.
Jim Pate: Thank you for joining us. It was a pleasure having you on site with us, and in the ReStore. We appreciate your involvement.
Big Freedia: It’s been great working with Habitat! I got involved because I wanted to give back. I was looking for a way to do that, and me and Habitat found each other. Growing up here, I know what it’s like in New Orleans, especially since Katrina. It’s hard. Rent is so high. So I liked that Habitat helps people find a better way to live, so they can afford it.
JP: You worked alongside Leonard Fruga at his home in the Lower Ninth. How was working on site?
BF: It was hard! It was hard, but it was good. I liked meeting the family that was buying the home. Meeting Leonard made it worth it, you know, no matter how sore I was afterward. They were working on the house while we were there, and they came next day to the concert. I loved getting to meet them.
JP: We’ve had many volunteers talk about connecting with partner families. That’s an important part of what we do.
BF: Right! Working with the families helps you realize that it’s not easy if you’re paying too much for rent, because you can’t save anything. It takes all your money. Habitat helps people to start saving money because they don’t pay as much. If you’re used to fighting just to pay rent, it can be hard to know how to save, even when you got enough money. That’s one reason financial literacy is important.
JP: It is essential for new homeowners.
BF: And I know it’s hard for people to think about it. You gotta pay the bills and pay for things when they come up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t know where your money is. There are people who can help you. Habitat helped me meet with a lady from Desire Community Housing who told me about how I could best use my money, and she worked with me like she does with Habitat’s homeowners. There’s other groups that do it. Habitat has a whole list so people can go where it’s convenient to them.
JP: We understand how much extra effort our families put in to buy a home, so we provide options. Our goal is to set up our families to succeed in every way we can. Some families already have everything together. Some need a little guidance. But we’ve found that almost everyone takes something away from the classes.
BF: Yeah, I did. I learned about how important your credit is and about budgeting your money. It’s not just what you got, but what you owe and what people owe you and what your bills are. It’s how much you’re getting and spending, and for some people, how much you’re saving. And there’s different ways people can save and earn money. But you gotta know where it is and take control.
JP: And it’s important to understand that that’s what our partner families are doing when they step forward and join our homeownership program.
BF: As a volunteer, I was privileged to work with them, with the Fruga family. Working on site, it was amazing. We put the frames up for the walls of the whole house. It was amazing seeing it at the end of the day. Some of us had never done anything like that.
JP: Some of us hadn’t been to a bounce concert before you performed on site. Everyone loved it, especially the homeowners.
BF: It was so good to see people having a good time. The neighbors came and watched, and the Frugas were up in the house with us, which was the stage—we had just put the frames up. We were dancing in their house! Some of the neighbors got up and danced with us, too. Knowing that the house was going to a family like that felt good.
JP: It was good for staff morale to see a few managers up there trying to twerk!