Housing complaints, article cause residents’ eviction
"When the article ran in the paper, we had no idea we were going to get evicted," Chopin said. "Now, I don't know what my family and I are going to do."
Chopin says her landlord, Norbert Green, knocked on the door with the copy of the Herald-Guide in which Chopin described her housing conditions and allegedly said, "You did this to me. Get the f--- out of my house."
Green did not return calls to confirm this information.
"Shwane showed up at the Social Concerns office in Luling and was just devastated," Colette Lottinger, president of Social Concerns, said. "We took her in our office and one of the visitors suggested that she send him a thank you note, because no one deserves to live like that."
"We helped to empower her that day," Lottinger continued. "Before Ms. Chopin left our office, we prayed with her and were more determined than ever to help her find a new place to stay."
Lottinger said she is certain that the family qualifies for some type of assistance.
"When people come to us for help, like Ms. Chopin did, we try to refer them to the right agency, because a lot of times people living in her situation don't know about the resources in the parish that are available to them," she said. "I was surprised to find out that nothing more is done to help people living in situations that have a landlord-tenant complaint."
Local housing agents say that a shortage in affordable housing in St. Charles Parish forces families like the Chopins to try to cope in difficult situations.
Leila Jackson, director of the St. Charles Housing Authority, and Paula Pete, executive director of the Family Resource Center in Boutte, share the opinion that housing for the underprivileged is not readily available in St. Charles Parish.
"I did read the article in the Herald-Guide and I will do what I can to help the families that got evicted.”
Jackson says that since Hurricane Katrina, affordable housing has been difficult to find in St. Charles Parish.
"The section eight housing list has opened up, and there is no waiting," she said. "We watch prices in rent sky rocket, but now things are beginning to level off as residents are relocating and rebuilding in New Orleans and landlords are opening more properties."
Individual income evaluations must be taken to determine whether or not a family can qualify for Section 8 housing assitance.
“The income guidelines vary depending upon the number of people living in the household, the total amount of income coming in and other conditions,” Jackson said. “Contact our office the first week of October to make an appointment to see if you are eligible.”
The Family Resource Center provides affordable housing opportunities for residents who meet the income requirements.
"We just completed our first modular home at 161 Boutte Estates," Pete said. "We've had over 200 families in the last year to come in and try to qualify for home ownership in St. Charles Parish.
Pete says its cheaper to buy a home than rent one since Hurricane Katrina.
"I've helped people who lived in travel trailers, people who have lived with relatives because there is not enough housing in the parish,” he said. “The reason why we are here is to bring affordable housing to families in St. Charles Parish who could not otherwise afford a home.
"We've just completed our first home Aug. 10 and we have three homes that are going into construction and they should be complete by March."
Two of the homes are in Killona, one is in Boutte.
To find out more about Family Resources of New Orleans Self-Help Housing Program, contact Pete at 985-785-0570. The company provides mortgage counseling to help the families get ready for homeownership, credit rehabilitation, and has an individual development accounts program to assist families in saving for their first home.
"Under the IDA program families budget and save $1,000,” Pete said. “Southern University in Baton Rouge will give the families $4,000 in addition to the first thousand they save, towards the purchase of a new home.”
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