Ville Platte Mayor Encourages Municipal Leaders To Seek Out Affordable Housing Resources

March 11, 2019

Re-elected to her third term of office in 2018, Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine has set her sights on developing more affordable housing in the Evangeline Parish city of more than 7,000.

Vidrine’s administration is leveraging assistance through the Louisiana Housing Corporation to transform abandoned lots throughout the city into affordable single family homes that are available to residents as rental properties or rent-to-own properties.

Private developers in the Ville Platte area are also building affordable senior housing apartments financed by the housing tax credit, which provides a strong incentive for the development of affordable rental housing through a dollar-for-dollar reduction to an investor’s federal tax liability. The program is facilitated in the state by the LHC.

Vidrine and other housing experts will discuss how cities and other municipalities can promote affordable housing projects in Louisiana during a panel at the inaugural Connections conference, hosted by the Louisiana Housing Corporation in April. “What is so great about LHC having this conference is it gives us the opportunity to introduce local mayors to all of the affordable housing programs available to them that they can use for their cities,” she says.

Mayor Vidrine took a moment out of her busy schedule to tell us a little about Ville Platte’s housing initiatives. Read highlights of the conversation below.

How did you begin your city’s affordable housing efforts?

The first thing we did was reach out to Louisiana Housing Corporation. I think that’s the first step any mayor should take. That’s one of the reasons we’re having the conference because a lot of mayors don’t know they can reach out to LHC. The first thing I did was reach out to LHC and find out exactly what kind of programs they had that could assist my residents in getting into affordable housing.

How did you focus on abandoned properties?

Once I reached out to them, they gave me a plethora of information on the different programs. I looked around and the first thing I noticed was that there are a lot of vacant lots that were adjudicated to the city. They were just sitting there costing the city money because we had to keep the grass mowed. We connected with the HOME program that would allow homes to be built on those properties. Then we got in touch with a nonprofit that is connected to LHC, or could be connected with LHC, and the property is turned over to them to develop. Sometimes people donate properties to the city that they don’t want. That’s another program where you can take dilapidated homes and renovate them into nice, livable homes for people. They just have numerous programs.

What is an example of recent properties you are developing?

As we speak, we had some property that belonged to the city, and right now we’re developing 10 single family homes on that property.

What’s your advice for other mayors who want to encourage affordable housing?

It’s about the mayors reaching out to LHC and seeing what programs are available to them. You just have to take that initial step. They also have an initiative called Community Connections where LHC personnel will come out to your city meet with the mayor or citizens and go over each program one by one — not only to see what you can do as a city but they can also let individuals know how they can qualify for a single family home.

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