Habitat for Humanity tackling blight in Baton Rouge

Updated: Nov. 15, 2018 at 2:56 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Thursday was a very special morning for Keiosha Turley. She watched as Habitat for Humanity volunteers started demolition on a vacant home on N 31st Street. In its place, the group bill built a new house for her, her three children, and her niece.

“This is definitely more space for my children,” Turley said. “It’s more stability. I don’t have to worry about moving. We’re buying, we’re not renting, so this is definitely gonna' be a new beginning for us.”

Typically, Habitat for Humanity builds on empty lots, but this house is part of a new effort by the group to solve a nagging problem in Baton Rouge: blight.

“People will go into a neighborhood and tear down a house that is really declined like this one, but then nothing comes in its place,” said Lynn Clark, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge. “And with our program, in addition to eliminating that structure, we’re also building a wonderful, affordable home.”

Habitat builds low income housing with a 0 percent interest mortgage in an effort to help families in need. Now, they’re trying to revitalize neighborhoods like the one on N 31st. Reverend Rene Brown of Mount Zion Baptist Church says this is a positive step towards helping poorer communities. “If we could simply work one house at a time, if we can rebuild one house at a time,” Brown said. “That would change our communities. At a slower rate, but it will still change the communities.”

Construction for Turley’s home will start in early 2019. Construction for two other Habitat homes is expected to be completed around that same time, and they have five more lots on N 31st they plan to build on in the near future. Anyone interested in volunteering for Habitat, can visit their website here.

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