Place du Bourg observes second decade of service

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 27, 2001


LAPLACE – Place Dubourg, a five-story apartment housing facility for those 62 years ad older, is celebrating its 20th year. The apartment building houses 115 one-bedroom apartments and has plenty of amenities for its residents: a beauty shop, a craft and hobby center, a game room and a coffee shop. They also have an activities coordinator and religious services. Part of HORIZONS Program for the elderly, Place Dubourg is sponsored by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is designed for people who are independent and do not require assisted living. The residents come and go as they please, just as they would at any other apartment complex. The facility has an emergency call system so that if residents need assistance they can receive it immediately. In January 1981, the building was opened, and two administrators, Sisters Mary deLourdes Scully and Mary Regina Morse, moved in. They lived there for a couple of weeks, then residents began moving in at a rate of three a day. It took six months to fill the building, and since then it has stayed full. There is a short waiting list of people who want to move in. “It was a new concept for people in the area,” said administrator Chris Palmisano, who has been working at Place Dubourg for the 20 years it has been open. “A lot of people thought it might be like a nursing home, but by word of mouth they started hearing what it was really like. There are no nurses or doctors. It’s simply apartment living that is more secure.” Velva Smith and Catherine Holmes are the only two residents who have been at Place Dubourg for the whole 20 years it has been open. “I tell everybody they’re going to have to take me out on a stretcher,” said Smith, who is 84 years old. “I’ve really enjoyed living here. There’s usually something going on, and I’ll come down for it. I’ll have some coffee or cake or something.” Smith, who has three children in Tangipahoa Parish who often take her out for lunch, recalled her move into Place Dubourg as a pleasant memory. “A friend called and told me how nice it was. So, I came in, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Sister deLourdes was here when I moved in, and she was wonderful. Most of the people here are real nice,” she said. Palmisano calls Place Dubourg affordable housing for the elderly. All the apartments are eligible for rent subsidies, meaning the renters pay 30 percent of their income for rent. “It also means security,” said Palmisano. Someone is always on call for emergencies. She also said the Council on Aging provides five meals a week for residents. “But companionship is one of the main reasons they come. Rather than be isolated, they have other people who are always around,” said Palmisano. She recalled the 1999 Mother’s Day bus crash, in which several Place Dubourg residents and many other people, mostly elderly, were killed. The trip, a day trip to a casino, was not sponsored by Place Dubourg but several of its residents went. Eight residents died in the crash. “The older you get, though,” said Palmisano, “the more you start to realize life goes on. They were all really sad, really sorry, but they move on. They pick up and go on.” Currently, Place Dubourg houses 15 men and 101 women and only one couple. The average age of its residents is 77. Place Dubourg has many in-house events planned for this year for its residents to celebrate the 20th anniversary. For more information on Place Dubourg, call (504) 652-1981.