Warm Welcome to the Bayou

On June 23, the Front Porch Initiative joined New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) in launching a replacement housing program for a hurricane-affected community in Louisiana. Bringing disaster recovery and rebuilding to a community hit hard by Hurricane Ida on August 29, 2021, New Orleans Area Habitat announced their commitment to the town of Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, with a press event sharing the vision for rebuilding and pledging a $4.5M investment to fund the recovery effort.

New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity hosted an event launching a Hurricane Ida recovery event for interested residents of Jean Lafitte and were joined by representatives from the city and community.

At the press event, Rusty Smith joined Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner, Jr., Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, State Representative Tim Kerner, Sr., and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Marguerite Oestreicher in announcing the rebuilding effort. Rusty noted how energy efficiency, durability, and resilience contribute to the long-term affordability of the houses being proposed by reducing monthly utility bills and maintenance and repair expenses; how design features can contribute to positive health outcomes of the residents; and how the houses will contribute to strengthening the community fabric of Jean Lafitte.

Rural Studio’s Rusty Smith described new affordable, energy efficient homes proposed for Jean Lafitte and the benefits they will offer to residents.

According to NOAHH, more than 90% of homes in the area were damaged by Ida. Over the next two years, they aim to construct between 40 and 60 homes for property owners whose homes were destroyed by the hurricane. Built on homeowners’ existing property, Rural Studio’s energy efficient and resilient housing prototypes will be adapted to respond appropriately to the local climate and site needs. The first house will be based on Sylvia’s House, a two-bedroom model that has been adapted to include a second bathroom. To exceed base flood elevation, piles will lift the structure 10 feet above grade, creating usable space below the home.

Approximately 120 residents attended the event at the Lafitte Community Center. After the information session, residents were able to meet with NOAHH to begin the application process. The affiliate aims to limit homeowner mortgage payments to approximately $500, and fundraising is underway to establish a satellite operations base and construction warehouse in the area and to offset construction costs. Pile driving on the first replacement home began on July 27, and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity plans to mark the anniversary of Hurricanes Ida and Katrina on August 29, 2022, with a community event. 

Press coverage of the event:

NOLA.com: “Habitat for Humanity plans 40 homes for Ida-weary Lafitte residents: ‘This means hope’” by Blake Paterson | June 24, 2022 | link

Fox8live.com: “Home building group donates $4.5 million to build homes damaged after Hurricane Ida” by Rob Masson | June 23, 2022 | link