Hundreds line up for Section 8 applications

Hundreds of people lined up this week at the Lake Charles Housing Authority — with the line at times wrapping around the building — to get on the Section 8 waiting list, the first time in three years the list has opened up.

“Rent just keeps going up and up and up, but my paychecks aren’t going up,” said Kelleigh Johnson, 23, on Tuesday after picking up a housing application. “Maybe some of the local industries that have millions of dollars could throw a few of those dollars toward the housing crisis here and help some of us.”

Terry Cary, 61, said he was “applying for Section 8 for the first time in my life. I can no longer afford high rents. I’m on a fixed income and with the little check I get every month, my money is gone. I’m going to pray that I get this housing because I really need it. But if someone needs it more than I do and they get it, I’ll be happy for them.”

{{tncms-inline alignment=”center” content=”<p><em>"So many of us are working hard and just getting by because we have minimum-wage jobs. Rent takes just about everything I have." </em></p> <p style="text-align: right;">Santana Landry</p>” id=”57f7894e-d762-4499-8d6a-b6ee208328cd” style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent” width=”full”}}

One woman, Santana Landry, 31, said she was “so frustrated that rents keep getting jacked up.” Landry said she has a full-time job, works hard, and has three children, 2, 8 and 18. “Life is just a struggle right now, and that’s mostly because of the high rents. So many of us are working hard and just getting by because we have minimum-wage jobs. Rent takes just about everything I have.”

Liz Fontenot, 22, said, “Housing is just so expensive right now that it’s unreal. And so many of us are living paycheck to paycheck. You almost have to work two or three jobs to really make it here. I have a child too. It’s very, very frustrating. People were lined up here at 5 a.m. yesterday to get applications, and the office doesn’t open until 8 so you can tell that there are a lot of desperate people who need affordable housing.”

Nachella Bushnell, 23, said she’s fortunate to be able to stay with her mother right now but that she wants to live on her own. “I need this Section 8 housing in the worst way,” Bushnell said. “I have two babies, I work, and I just can’t afford housing. It’s ridiculous. My mama is helping me for right now, but she’s ready for me to fly. I’m a hard worker, but I just can’t pay a high rent because I don’t make a high income.”

Ben Taylor, director of the housing authority, said the reason so many people are applying for Section 8 is the lack of affordable housing in the area. “People are getting hammered,” Taylor said. “There are people making just slightly above our income limits, working at full-time jobs, but having trouble paying high rents and they can’t get assistance because they make a little too much.”

Taylor said the process to apply for Section 8 is easy: “Applicants sign up, get a numbered application, fill it out, turn it back in, and then they go on the waiting list.”

Because it takes time for the housing authority to go through its process of vetting applicants — including background and reference checks and income verification — Taylor said it can sometimes take up to a year or two for residents to get approved for housing.

“If a person has any type of a criminal background that includes drugs or crimes of violence, they will not be approved for Section 8 housing,” he said.

People can pick up applications 8 a.m.-noon through Friday, July 28, at the housing authority, 800 Bilbo St., Suite A. Those picking up applications must have photo identification.

“So many of us are working hard and just getting by because we have minimum-wage jobs. Rent takes just about everything I have.” 

Santana Landry

      191efba0-7acd-11e7-b8ff-3b75373fa57e2017-08-06T18:00:00Znews/local,newsCourthouse art project nearing completionIn BeauregardPamela SleezerBeauregard and Vernon Parish Reporter https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/9/9d/d2d/99dd2d76-3a6c-11e7-b361-0bf4ce08a215.7222f7a7273cedc8f0b95aaa0666b97c.png

      DERIDDER — Artist Elise Grenier revisited the Beauregard Parish Courthouse on Tuesday to begin her final restorative touches to Courtroom 1, as renovation work nears completion.

      Grenier was hired by Judges Martha Ann O’Neal and C. Kerry Anderson to return the impressive canvas art piece that towers above the judge’s bench to its original glory. But she said that even she didn’t expect the dramatic results she obtained.

      “Sometimes when I restore a piece, it’s hard to see the difference unless you were there for the entire process,” she said. “This piece, though, it’s truly amazing to see the palette of colors that we found underneath.”

      The marouflage artwork depicting Roman ruins spans the length of one wall, and Grenier and her team spent six weeks cleaning away the dust and dirt that 100 years laid over it.

      All the while, she documented the efforts with photos and videos posted to the Grenier Conservation social media page. She found cracks that she injected with adhesive, repaired grout work and retouched small missing fragments. But she stressed that only 2 percent of the entire piece was retouched.

      “Many people erroneously believe that restoring means repainting and retouching,” she said. “But it is extremely important to not retouch an original piece unless absolutely necessary.”

      By today’s standards, Grenier said, any areas that are retouched on original artwork must be documented for posterity and be reversible.

      “Just like in medicine, there may be advances that come along in the future that can go beyond today’s efforts to restore a piece,” she said. “And we never want our interventions confused with the original.”

      Grenier was given permission by the Beauregard Parish Police Jury to leave a small corner the way she’d found it, and she said she was grateful to be able to leave something behind to illustrate the dramatic transformation.

      One mystery long debated in the community is the identity of the artist behind the painting. Grenier said no signature was found on the piece, but that she believes the artist was Italian-trained and experienced.

      “These brushstrokes were quick and sure,” she said. “This is a massive piece, and at no point does it appear that they lost perspective on the work. There are no mistakes in the lighting and shading that I can find.”

      One thing she is certain about, however, is that the work wasn’t done by Conrad Albrizio, whose murals and paintings adorn several government buildings across the state, including DeRidder’s historic post office building.

      Grenier said she studied Albrizio extensively and is certain that the artistic style displayed in the courtroom piece doesn’t match his impressionistic work.

      “I’m sure that there is documentation of who was hired to paint the piece somewhere,” she said. “And I must say I am very curious myself of who it was.”

      On Tuesday, Grenier began work on her final project in the courthouse as she performed evaluation tests on the large crest mounted just above the judge’s bench beneath the painting.

      Originally, she said, the piece was assumed to have been wooden just like the room’s framework, but it’s really a plaster piece covered in traces of gold leaf that was then painted over at least twice in a dark brown stain.

      She said the likely reason why such an impressive piece was painted over was simply that it was beginning to fade or flake.

      “Conservation is a fairly new science, and all those years ago the traditional way to repair things of this nature was simply to paint over it,” she said.

      “Sometimes, like in this case, you never really know what you will find when you begin working on something that is this old. It’s like a science and a treasure hunt all at the same time.”

      Construction at the courthouse is expected to reach completion by the end of August, with an open house tentatively set for October.

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