Residents of the eroding Isle de Jean Charles seeking resettlement through the government need to act fast as the deadline rapidly approaches.
Government officials seek to complete the project by December of 2021, and have set a January 31st deadline for those whose primary residence was on the Isle as of Hurricane Isaac (August 28, 2012).
“We have been actively working with residents who have lived on the island since Aug. 28, 2012… So they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” said OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes. “In addition, we are providing an option for residents who left the island before that date… but would like to rejoin the Isle de Jean Charles Community.”
There are currently four options which can be chosen from: Option A and D are open to permanent residents of the island from between August 28, 2012 and the program’s launch March 9, 2019. Option A residents will receive a new home within the resettlement community, while Option D residents may choose a new existing home within Louisiana which meets their building requirements. The buildings constructed will also follow the same criteria.
Option B will apply to past permanent residents – people from before August 28, 2012 who were displaced from the island. If these residents remained within a program-eligible parish, they may choose a lot within the community, if they can demonstrate the ability to afford to build. Residents of the Isle may begin enrolling for this option on February 10.
Finally, option C, will be anyone who can afford to build, but must abide by the design standard. This will be any excess lots remaining.
The program will be carried out in phases and, as of Thursday, the program has 47 applicants. Phase 1, which received conditional building permits, will consist of building 32 homes and building the infrastructure of 32 others. According to Christopher Pulaski, Director of Zoning and Land Use of Terrebonne Parish, the number of houses constructed could increase if the program receives more applicants.
“The total number of lots that would technically be ready to go in phase 1 would be 64,” Pulaski said. “But right now their plan is to only build houses on 32 of these 64 lots.”
Concerns have been raised that the new homes upkeep costs – bills such as electricity, water, as well as maintenance – could be a burden within the criteria. Because of this, Pulaski said, standards have been designed to be durable to our weather and are energy efficient.
The State is working with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to build this with money from the Community Block Grant. All work must be completed by September of 2022, but the State seeks to have construction finished by December of 2021.