Gulf Coast Housing Partnership Celebrates ‘Resilient’ Development

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Photo by Claire Bangser

NEW ORLEANS — From Gulf Coast Housing Partnership:

On the first day of the 2022 hurricane season, New Orleans based developer Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, the Louisiana Office of Community Development and the Louisiana Housing Corporation gathered in Lockport, Louisiana to celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche, a 35-unit storm resilient affordable housing community.   

Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche is the result of Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for the Future Environments (LA SAFE), an innovative planning effort launched by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in March 2017 to create strategies and projects in anticipation of coastal land loss and increasing flood risk.

A partnership comprised of the Louisiana Office of Community Development (OCD), the Foundation for Louisiana and the LA SAFE team conducted a nine-month inclusive public process in 2018 focused on parishes heavily impacted in 2012 by Hurricane Isaac. Through community meetings held in each parish, residents prioritized their list of critical projects.  

In Lafourche Parish, residents cited the need for affordable housing in the northern part of the parish, where future flood risk is projected to remain low. In 2019, GCHP was competitively awarded $7 million in Community Development Block-Grant National Disaster Resilience (CDBG-NDR) funds by OCD and LHC to build Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche.

“Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche showcases the perfect blend of affordable housing and resilient construction critically needed in south Louisiana,” OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “This development leverages state and federal funding with private investment to create a highly successful public-private partnership. Lafourche Parish is frequently threatened by increasingly intense storms, most recently hurricanes Delta, Zeta and Ida. Using National Disaster Resilience funds to build this community will help Lockport secure a future for its residents that is safer, stronger and smarter.”

Resilient construction and design features are what sets Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche apart from other multi-family developments in the area. Elevated concrete foundations; engineered framing with metal hurricane anchors and bolts; impact-rated doors and windows; and standing seam metal roofs are disaster-tested measures that mitigate the risk of property damage.

“Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche homes incorporate high durability, performance, and efficiency features, allowing residents to weather extreme storm-related events in place,” said LHC Executive Director Joshua G. Hollins. “As we begin another hurricane season, I could not be more proud to announce the completion of Les Maisons de Bayou, the first government-funded housing project in Louisiana to incorporate this level of resiliency features.”

The 16 duplex and triplex style- one-two- and three-bedroom units are built to meet the FORTIFIED Commercial Standard Gold Designation – a certification designed to minimize damage from a Category 3 Hurricane.  The FORTIFIED construction methods include a highly engineered roof system and a continuous load path that ties the structure of the house together and redistributes extreme wind to the foundation of the building. Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche received the first FORTIFIED Multifamily™ designation ever issued by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

Construction began on Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche in August 2020 and the development was 90 % complete when Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2021.  The storm proved to be the first test for the resilient housing community.

“When you compare the devastation Hurricane Ida caused to homes and businesses surrounding Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche to the minimal damage at our property, it is obvious that the resilient construction and design elements worked,” said Kathy Laborde, GCHP president and CEO. “This community now serves as a model for GCHP and other developers for how we can build housing that adapts to our changing environment.”

Although flooding was not an issue at the property for Hurricane Ida, the development mitigates the potential for water damage with a landscape designed to capture water from a 25-year flood event. The buildings are also elevated three feet above future Base Flood Elevation. If there is water intrusion, paperless drywall, tile floors and elevated mechanical equipment make it easier—and cheaper– to recover from a flood. All these measures are intended to get residents back into their homes as quickly as possible after a severe weather event.

Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche is a mixed-income community. Twenty-Eight of the 35 units are designated for families at 50 % to 60 % of Area Median Income, six units are leased at market-rate and there is an on-site manager’s unit.  Five units are designed for people with mobility impairments and three units are equipped for residents with sensory impairments. The development also includes residency preferences for veterans, individuals with disabilities and seniors.

Financing for Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche was provided by Louisiana Office of Community Development, Louisiana Housing Corporation, R4 Capital, Sterling Bank, Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust, Federal Home Bank of Atlanta, Regions Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, and Home Bank.

In addition to GCHP, the project team included VergesRome Architects; landscape architecture firm Dana Brown and Associates; Level Construction & Development; Grant Ethridge Construction; and energy rating consultant Energy Efficiency NOW.

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