Calcasieu School Board OKs cooperative endeavor agreement

Published 9:53 am Friday, November 18, 2022

The Calcasieu Parish School Board voted unanimously Thursday to approve the cooperative endeavor agreement between Urban Strategies, Inc. (USI) and the Housing Authority of the city of Lake Charles.

The Housing Authority of Lake Charles is in the process of applying for a Choice Neighborhood Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This grant would provide $40 million to fund people-focused programs, housing construction and neighborhood projects to improve and redevelop the 37-acre area which includes Barbe Elementary School, the Lloyd Oaks public housing community, and residential properties by Dixie Drive, Creole Street, Lake Street and West 18th Street.

Ben Taylor, director of the Lake Charles Housing Authority, said they have partnered with 82 different businesses and concerned citizens in the included area.

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He said the grant would focus on four pillars to make housing more stable for the Housing Authority’s clients: education enhancements, wellness and health, economic mobility and policy development.

Taylor said now is an opportune time for Lake Charles to apply for this grant. “A housing authority our size, we wouldn’t qualify for a thing like this without having Laura, Delta, the ice storm and flooding,” he said. “You have to have something catastrophic happen to you to be able to get in the game.”

“We think we’ve got a great story to tell. We think it could be a real transformation for that area,” Taylor said.

The cooperative agreement that was passed is vital for the success of the CNI grant.

Dr. Shannon LaFargue, CPSB Superintendent, stated that entering this agreement would aid in Barbe Elementary’s recovery efforts. “As we enhance that area and provide better support for Barbe Elementary, we will hopefully be getting more students back… we would hope that our enrollment would go back up.”

USI is the designated principal team member, and will lead the implementation of the “People component” of the CNI for the Mid-City Neighborhood Transformation plan. This plan will ensure that children living in the targeted area will enter kindergarten prepared to learn through the coordination of activities.

Bliss Bujard, District 11 Representative, and Aaron Natali, District 1 Representative, were not present for the meeting.