LRA assumes responsibility for Louisiana Cottages

BATON ROUGE, La. (February 29, 2008) – The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) will assume responsibility for administrating the state’s $74.5 million Louisiana Cottages program, as part of ongoing efforts to streamline the state’s recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“We must move quickly to build these cottages, which will offer safe housing alternatives for residents who were impacted by the storms,” said Paul Rainwater, LRA Executive Director.

The Louisiana Cottages program builds homes under a pilot program funded by FEMA to assess alternative housing models to the use of travel trailers and mobile homes after future disasters.  The state has committed to building the first group of Louisiana Cottages on the grounds of Jackson Barracks as a housing alternative for those who work on the base, which serves as the headquarters of the Louisiana National Guard and was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

To date, the LHFA Board has approved and given the go ahead to sites at two separate tracts in Lake Charles, two potential areas in Baton Rouge, a portion of the Jackson Barracks installation in New Orleans, and properties owned by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA).

“We agree with the LRA that a fresh perspective is in order,” said Wayne Woods, Chairman of the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency’s Board of Directors. “Budgets are in place, sites have been selected, construction contracts have been approved, work orders are issued and environmental clearances are underway.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded Louisiana $74.5 million for the Louisiana Cottage project, which will create more than 400 homes in targeted neighborhoods across South Louisiana. The Louisiana project is one of five selected under FEMA’s Alternative Housing Pilot Program (AHPP), which has provided an opportunity and an avenue to explore new ideas for providing post-disaster housing to people in need.

FEMA’s Alternative Housing Pilot Program is intended to address ongoing housing challenges created by the 2005 hurricane season in the states of the Gulf Coast region, specifically Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas. More than 200,000 housing units in Louisiana suffered major or severe damage as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In September 2006, the LRA issued a Request for Ideas (RFI) to gather ideas from the private and non-profit sectors on what to include in the state’s application. A national panel of experts convened in New Orleans in October to review the submissions based on FEMA criteria, the commitment to Louisiana’s economy and whether the models reflected the architectural traditions of Louisiana.

FEMA announced in December of 2006 that it had funded one of the projects in Louisiana’s application. The Louisiana Housing Finance Agency (LHFA) was originally chosen to administer the program through a contract with Baton Rouge-based Cypress Realty Partners.

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