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GCHP Storm Resilient Property in Lockport Louisiana Withstands Catastrophic Hurricane Ida

A Picture is worth a thousand words– on August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Port Fourchon located at the southern tip of Lafourche Parish Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane, causing catastrophic damage to homes, businesses and property.

Fifty miles away in the city of Lockport in northern Lafourche Parish, Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche, a 35-unit storm resilient affordable housing community sustained minimal damages as evidenced by the attached drone footage and is a notable success story for disaster resilient housing and Louisiana’s LA SAFE program.

Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for the Future Environments (LA SAFE) was launched by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2017 and is funded by a $40 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The purpose of LA SAFE was to create strategies and projects in anticipation of coastal land loss and increasing flood risk.

In 2018, the Louisiana Office of Community Development (OCD) partnered with the Foundation for Louisiana and the LA SAFE team to conduct a nine-month inclusive public process focused on Lafourche Parish and five other parishes heavily impacted in 2012 by Hurricane Isaac. In a series of public meetings, Lafourche Parish residents cited the need for affordable housing and a resilient housing prototype in the northern parish area, where future flood risk is projected to remain low.

Through a competitive RFP process, OCD and the Louisiana Housing Corporation awarded New Orleans-based real estate developer Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP) Community Development Block Grant- National Disaster Resilience (CDBG- NDR) funds to develop Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche.

Construction on Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche began in August 2020 and was just over 90 % complete when Hurricane Ida came onshore in Louisiana on August 29, 2021.

Resilient and sustainable design and construction 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.

These duplex and triplex-style homes are built to meet the FORTIFIED Commercial Standard Gold Designation – a certification designed to minimize damage from a Category 3 Hurricane. This includes a highly engineered roof system and a continuous load path which ties the structure of the house together and redistributes extreme wind to the foundation of the building.

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 Base Flood Elevation. If there is water intrusion, paperless drywall, tile floors, foam insulation 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 will open to its first residents in Fall 2021 and currently has a waiting list. The development includes one-two- and three-bedroom units, 28 of which are designated for families at 50 % to 60 % of Area Median Income, as well as six units leased at market-rate and on 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.

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

Financing for Les Maisons de Bayou Lafourche was provided by Louisiana Office of Community Development- Disaster Recovery Unit, 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.

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