FRANKLIN — Nearly two years after breaking ground on the project, the St. Mary Community Action Agency cut the ribbon Wednesday on its Isaiah House Initiative, a $400,000 renovation of four one-bedroom homes in Franklin.
The move is part of what CEO Almetra Franklin calls, “thinking outside of the box to address housing concerns for St. Mary Parish families, who otherwise could not afford a new home, but who need a decent, safe, affordable place.”
“This is just the beginning. We have plans to move throughout the parish,” Franklin said.
The four homes, one of which is ADA Compliant, are located on Hogan Lane in Franklin.
St Mary CAA Housing Director Jeff Beverly said the homes are roughly 700 square feet in size and have a 20-foot front yard, and a 30-foot back yard.
Franklin said SMCAA bought the homes in 2018 for $5,000 each, with the intention of applying for a grant to renovate them.
The agency applied for and received a grant from the Louisiana Housing Corporation to turn the dream into a reality.
District 50 State Rep. Vinny St. Blanc, R-Franklin, said the project is an example of how St. Mary Community Action Agency is, “way ahead of the game.”
Franklin Mayor Eugene Foulcard recalled the original purchase of the homes, when he worked for St. Mary CAA as their CFO.
“Without a vision, people perish. This is why when you have faith in God, he speaks, you listen and this is the result,” Foulcard said.
Beverly said that although there is a waiting list, the agency has a goal to have the homes rented by Dec. 1.
Mary Brown, grant writer for the agency, said rental fees will be placed back in the agency’s housing fund project, for maintenance and expansion.
The upgrades include furnishings, added living space, concrete walking areas and brand new skirting for a beautiful fit and finish.
Keith Cunningham, executive director of the Louisiana Housing Corporation, said Isaiah’s House, “represents what a community can do with resources, effort, energy, care and concern.”
“One of our goals at the Louisiana Housing Corporation is go back to the areas of our state that have been disenfranchised, with no opportunities, and help them turn things around. Our resources only work if they can get into the hands of the people that need them, people who have vision, and who can turn things around.”
“We want to make sure that what you see here today, is just the start of things to come. Let’s move our state forward by concentrating on where we live first. Things need to start with where we live,” Cunningham said.
Brown said she also credits Hancock Whitney Bank for extending the agency a line of credit.
“Hancock has been a terrific partner,” she said.
St. Mary Parish President David Hanagriff said one of the most significant issues concerning St. Mary Parish residents has always been adequate and quality housing.
“Isaiah’s Houses are a small step in the right direction for St. Mary CAA as well as St. Mary Parish in addressing those housing concerns.”