North Lake Charles residents air views on housing, development

By By Justin Phillips / American Press

A slow economy, slim funding and even a

federal government shutdown hasn’t kept the Lake Charles community

development department

from searching for ways to continue working in local

neighborhoods.

The department used a community forum Tuesday to gather input on the city’s policy toward housing and community development

needs. The input will be used in developing the city’s next five-year consolidated plan.

Esther Vincent, director of the department, said finances are the most important aspect of not only the next five-year plan,

but the action plans of each year.

“With Congress decreasing funding, we’re trying to do more with little funding,” Vincent said. “Basically, we’re trying to

get more bang for our buck.”

The department has felt the strains of

working with slimmer finances in many aspects, including the potential

decrease in

redeveloping local housing. The new twist has been the government

shutdown, which has placed a timer on Vincent’s department.

“There are enough finances to run until the end of October,” Vincent said. “That doesn’t mean the money isn’t there; it just

means we can no longer operate after that time.”

The public meeting was filled with residents from north Lake Charles. Their concerns ranged from flood zones to the well-being

of children living in some of the older and less accommodating homes in the area.

Many residents were concerned about how the department was going to find a way to rejuvenate the north Lake Charles area and

when it would happen. City Councilwoman Luvertha August spoke during the meeting and mentioned how it would be a good idea

for the City Council to revisit old ordinances to possibly amend them, helping to promote growth in north Lake Charles.

“There was some wonderful input tonight, and that’s what these meetings are all about,” Vincent said. “Residents should know

that I’ll be more than glad to come to any meetings they have. They can also call my office and speak with me. We’re also

going to be doing more meetings, so I encourage people to come like tonight.”

The city’s five-year consolidated plan has to be available for public viewing by July 2014. The plan has to be finished and

submitted by August 2014.