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More worker camps possible

Last Modified: Thursday, August 07, 2014 8:32 AM

By Frank DiCesare / American Press

The Lake Area will need more employee villages to house the estimated 16,000 temporary workers who will build the region’s megaprojects over the next several years, according to a new community housing report.

The finding, mentioned in the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance’s regional housing plan, indicates that the area’s current housing market won’t meet the demand of the temporary construction workers needed to build the projects planned for the next three to five years. The report is set for public release after Labor Day.

Even with the planned construction of employee villages like Pelican Lodge and Moss Lake Village, the region will still be about 10,000 units short of meeting its temporary housing demand, necessitating the construction of additional employee villages, said David Conner, the alliance’s vice president of economic development and international commerce.

Pelican Lodge, now under construction, is a $70 million housing facility on Port of Lake Charles property that will house up to 4,000 temporary workers. Moss Lake Village is expected to house about 2,500 temporary workers once it is built in the Carlyss area.

Conner, who also sits on the Calcasieu Parish Planning and Zoning Board, said it would be “a catastrophe” for the community to build permanent housing for temporary workers.

“During that time of construction when construction numbers rise, you satisfy a need,” he said. “But when those numbers come down, you’ve created a 10- to 20-year skewing of the market with an overbuilding of permanent homes. So you end up with a lot of empty apartments, empty hotels and empty permanent structures that have no market.”

Morgan Murray Turpin, the alliance’s housing grant administrator, said area apartments, most of which are in Calcasieu Parish, are 95 percent occupied. Without additional temporary housing for construction workers, she said, tenants now renting apartments could be displaced.

“It’s important to remember that temporary workers are guests of Southwest Louisiana,” Turpin said. “They should be treated as guests and not as outsiders.”

Conner said the report does not indicate how many employee villages need to be built to meet the temporary housing demand. That figure, he said, depends on the number of units in each employee village approved for construction.

He said he understands the “not-in-my-backyard” mentality when it comes to employee villages. Nevertheless, he said, “nimbyism” cannot be used to make housing decisions that are related to economic growth.

“If we make our decisions based on nimbyism, then we’re just telling Sasol and Magnolia and all of those guys, ‘We want you, but we don’t want to help you,’ ” Conner said. “It’s one thing for industry to say, ‘We’ve selected land in your parish’; it’s another thing for them to (ask), ‘Will you help us get our project built?’ Permitting happens elsewhere. Getting a project built is a local issue.”

On Tuesday, the alliance reported that the region’s megaproject expansions have topped the $70 billion price tag.


Posted By: Bob On: 8/15/2014

Title: Afterwards

Those camps will not be able to be used for anything after the projects are over because the owners will not maintain them well enough. They are temporary solutions only.
I agree that invite end they will turn into eyesores and more than likely be abandoned for the public to take care of.
The parish should demand that the owners set aside a sufficient amount if money aside in an escrow for the explicit purpose of dealing with the camps once the projects are over.
Though I do no think this will happen. Especially in Sulphur.....too many good old boys are involved.

Posted By: Hank On: 8/11/2014

Title: More camps

Couple of questions:
Is it fair for Mr Conner to represent those groups that will push or more housing and also be in the Planning Committee? No offense intended though it would be hard for a person to be unbiased, is this sufficient separation if competing interests? Again I mean no personal offense to Mr Conner whom is obviously a public servant.
Will the camps be put in areas that are in close proximity to the "better" parts ( south lake charles) of the area or will they be advocated for and placed in areas that are more rural and have less representation?
What will happen to the man camps when the Constryction is over; what happens if the original companies that own the camps go bankrupt or sell out to other companies, will the citizens if Calc Parish be left holding the bag?

What will happen to the man camps when the Constryction is over; what happens if the original companies that own the camps go bankrupt or sell out to other companies, will the citizens if Calc Parish be left holding the bag?
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Posted By: Mike Gaudin On: 8/7/2014

Title: Post Project

After the projects completion and the need for temporary workers subside the port could subsidize the housing for the disabled and the homeless. My son has a mental disability and I know there is a very long waiting list for housing, like forever. People in need of housing contact programs like NAMI and VOA which in turn direct the needy to these housing units. This would be one noble use of the post mega project man camps.

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