(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 7:36 PM
Nothing remains of one of Lake Charles’ oldest housing complexes that was built in the 1940s.
Demolition crews have torn down 72 units of what used to be Booker T. Washington at 1901 Mill St.
What could be considered as a loss for low-income housing residents is actually an upgrade as the city’s Housing Authority is leading the way in the construction of new residences – 102 to be exact.
Ben Taylor, authority director, said duplex units, a community center and security measures will all be part of the housing development to benefit residents who aren’t able to afford moderate-to-high rent or home payments.
“The total development package will cost $6.5 million, which includes the demolition, rebuild and all fees,” he said. “Booker T. Washington will be ready for occupancy at the end of the year.”
Two other home construction jobs have been overseen by the authority. Twenty new homes were built at Kingsley Court on Cline Street and 34 at Bayou Bluff off of Old U.S. 171. Booker T. Washington will have 48 when work is finished.
City Councilwoman Luvertha August said the project will provide the foundation for residents to move into new homes and hopefully build connections with neighbors.
As a child, August remembers Booker T. Washington as a place with strong community and family ties and many of her contemporaries who were raised there got out of high school and obtained college degrees.
“Back then the yards were well maintained and people took pride in their homes,” she said. “When it was renovated, a lot of those established families were relocated and the newer people who moved in were transient. The property lost its identity.”
Residents who were recently moved out of Booker T. Washington, ahead of the demolition, were provided other public housing units or given Section 8 vouchers.
Taylor said all three developments were designed with the intent of allowing families to keep their identity, something that can be lost when housed in a dormitory setting.
“We had a commitment to single-family housing. We want this to be first class,”
Posted By: Doug On: 2/19/2013
Title: What a Waste!!
New housing should have been provided in addition to BTW Courts, not as replacement. There was nothing wrong with those perfectly good and strong structures that had certainly withstood the tests of time and weather elements quite well. What is being built will be nice-looking for a short time, and then their cheapness will cause them to disintergrate quickly, I guarantee. This was evidently a political pay-off in order to line somebody's pockets.