CAA reps brief Rotary Club on affordable housing

Almetra Franklin, chief executive officer of St. Mary/Vermilion Community Action Agency, and Jeffrey Beverly, CAA housing director, addressed Franklin Rotary Tuesday at the Forest Restaurant in Franklin.
Franklin and Beverly were the guest speakers of Franklin Mayor Eugene Foulcard, who introduced the pair with praise and expressions of gratitude for the support he received as a mentee of Franklin’s, as well as financial director of CAA before being elected mayor in March.
Franklin affirmed in her address working closely with Foulcard’s administration in the current securing of funding for Foulcard’s fledgling affordable housing initiative, emphasizing what she called, “the importance of transportation and housing,” saying, “We’ve been talking with Mayor Foulcard about how we might extend the housing stock in Franklin, and we were talking about all the vacant units we have in Franklin.
“What we would like to do, is pool the Louisiana Housing Corporation partnership, which we are a member of. We would like to extend and do some rehab and really open Franklin up, so that families who wish to have the opportunity to do so, can own their own home.”
She mentioned the transportation and first-time housing counseling programs currently offered by CAA, focusing on transportation before leaving it to Beverly to expound the details of those and other programs.
She said, “We are the 5311 provider (Department of Transportation and Development), which is a transportation program not only in St. Mary (parish), but we are in Vermillion (parish), as well.
“What we are trying to do is we are trying to get more partnerships with the transportation programs to do some work with the hospitals and the nursing homes to provide transportation, so that they won’t have to transport their clients.”
After being yielded the podium, Beverly first addressed CAA’s weatherization program, saying, “With the weatherization program, we go as far as Lafourche (parish) all the way to Jeff Davis (Jefferson Davis Parish) doing weatherization, and what we are finding out is that the health and safety portion of that program, is critical.
“We go into homes and we find that residents are in homes with bac-flowing gases, with combustible parts of their stoves not working properly and people waking up feeling badly because there’s not good air flow into the home.”
He went on to say that because of the prevalence of such issues, CAA is attempting to expand their regular program of home assessment, to include homes that are outside the restraints of the program’s qualification protocols.
He said that the weatherization program has an average energy bill reduction rate of around 50 percent, and that he thinks most citizens could benefit from such a reduction.
In addressing CAA’s homebuyers education program, he said, “Most people don’t know that every Monday, we do a homebuyers class to certify people to become homeowners and to know the process of becoming homeowners.”
He touted the program as one which aims to extend the opportunity to people visiting a parish, to stay in the parish, and to educate them in the process of “investing in your community.”
Franklin concluded the dual address by saying, “We would just like to say that we are always looking for partners.
“If you have an activity and you are looking for a non-profit partner to latch onto, we would like to talk to you about how we might further the services to the people in our service area.”
To contact CAA, call 337-828-5703 or reach them online at: stmarycaa.org.

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