Lake Charles seeks funding to redevelop public housing neighborhood into mixed-income community

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 4:18 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A new housing plan was presented today, aimed at building a community in mid-city Lake Charles with mixed-income housing.

The Lake Charles Housing Authority and Mayor Nic Hunter are in support of the project and are committed to moving forward, but will need some more funding to make this come to life.

“Cleaning up and making fresh and making new,” said Braylon Harris, Director of SWLA Responds.

This mid-city neighborhood transformation project aims to rebuild the current affordable housing on Lake Street and turn it into a mixed-income housing community.

The neighborhood is near the intersection of Lake and 18th streets in Lake Charles.
The neighborhood is near the intersection of Lake and 18th streets in Lake Charles.

“We’re talking not only about redeveloping housing for the area, but also creating economic opportunities. So bringing in employment opportunities, bringing in job opportunities, creating a general streetscape, more attractive streetscape” said Nicole Miller, Chair of Lake Charles Housing Board Authority of Directors. “It really has the opportunity to bring people and economic revitalization together in one space.”

Miller says a project like this is only possible if everybody can get on board.

“We all have to be at the table and really believe in the power to change that neighborhood and know that if our central city is changed, if our central city is really strong and vital that it’s going to impact all of us,” said Miller.

Harris says this can help get Lake Charles back to a sustainable way of living.

“Just knowing where the city wants to go, we can add our efforts and knowing where the parish wants to go and initiatives like this, we can begin to kind of assist that initiative and add momentum to it,” said Harris.

Megan O’Hara with Urban Designs has worked with eight neighborhoods that have received this implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and says she has seen the positive impact over the years.

“Mixed-income housing is an opportunity to take lower-income residents living in public housing, demolish that public housing and then rebuild it as beautiful new market-rate quality housing that people of all incomes can live in,” said O’Hara. “In most places they’re doubling or tripling the number of housing units. The communities have parks and trails. They have entrepreneurship centers and they have new retail businesses moving in.”

“We start to see incomes rise, fewer families living in poverty, more children in early childhood education, improved math and reading scores and people coming out of high school ready to go to college,” O’Hara said.

At this point, Lake Charles is eligible for $40 million from HUD, but O’Hara says the ultimate goal is to raise three times that through other partners - public, private and non-profit leverage.

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