Construction begins on controversial Mixed Income HousingFeb 10th, 2011 | By Michelle Provencher | Category: News
A building permit has been issued for four apartment complexes to be erected in Chalmette – construction has begun on two of them – after a two-year battle between St. Bernard Parish government and the developer, Provident Realty Advisors.
One building will be located on Patricia Street, behind the Wal-Mart in Chalmette. A second location will be at the intersection of La Fontaine and West Virtue Streets, beside St. Bernard Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home.
Another will be constructed across from the government building on West Judge Perez Boulevard in Chalmette, and the remaining complex is believed to be built East on the same tract of land, in Arabi.
Each of the 72-unit apartment buildings will be mixed-income housing, conditions that Councilman Ray Lauga, District A, said are comparable to the now-demolished Village Square apartments.
Lauga said that as with Village Square, there would be no landlord maintaining the properties, and could lead to high crime rates. The councilman, whose district would be home to three of the four complexes, said he would prefer if the plans were for lower-density, more spread out structures.
However, some people view the parish’s roadblocks to prevent Provident Realty from moving forward with the project, as prejudice toward African-Americans.
It is said that the lack of affordable housing and apartments for rent in the parish is directed at African-American people, adding to the tension that is already felt by the black community in St. Bernard. Complaints of being unfairly targeted by police officers were the subject of a civic meeting in Violet last month.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department was investigating the parish for racial discrimination, posing a threat to the more than $90 million anticipated from HUD for parish projects, including the new public hospital.
After 30 minutes in Executive Session at the last St. Bernard Council meeting, held Feb. 1, the council passed a resolution naming Wayne Landry as the mediator between the parish and HUD to “mitigate and/or reconcile all compliance issues,” thus ensuring necessary funding would still come through. The legislation was approved unanimously.
Council members will be in Washington, D.C. this week for the Mardi Gras Ball celebration, and they intend to meet with HUD to discuss the matter while there.