Director says St. John housing still improving

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE -The St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority continues to grow and improve conditions creating a positive environment for the parents and the children.

In less than six months, Executive Director of the Housing Authority Joe Johnson has continuously shown his ability to make a negative situation into a positive situation.

“I came on board in November 2004,” said Johnson. “When I came on board we had a lot of needs. We have to thank the Sheriff’s office, because they have done great things for us, they are really helping out. They have played a major role in helping with the drug problem and the fighting. Now you see the kids out playing, when before they stayed inside, because of what was going on.”

There are a total of four sites including LaPlace, Reserve, Garyville and Edgard. There are programs being started for all sites. One of the programs is a tenant program, where the tenants will have the opportunities to go to school and make a better life for themselves.

“Around eight years ago, $85,000 was taken from the agency (housing authority) by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” said Johnson. “I called and said I wanted it back, so we could use it for the tenant program.”

According to Johnson, the program will consist of assessment test to determine where they would be the best fit in the market place and then they would take some classes at Louisiana Technical College River Parish Campus. This will be a good opportunity to learn and develop careers, he said.

Other programs include a development center, where parents come with their children twice a week for about two hours to get the parents more aware and involved in their child’s life. Another is a nutritional program for the younger children, where the help from Kathy Holmes (LSU AG Center) will educate the children and their parents on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, according to Darlinta Cook, administrative assistant (housing authority).

Cook said they are also planning to do an overnight camping and recreational programs in the summer for the youth.

“The major factor is to get them away from here,” said Johnson. “This is not the world. This will give them the chance to see what’s out there and expose them. These people do not have the resources to do this, so we want to help make it happen.”

Johnson said they are working with the Council on Aging as well to provide a meals on wheels program for tenants 65 years of age and older, along with providing security checks by the parish police.