Worker Housing Cancelled Amid Shortage Fears

A massive project that was advertised as the largest worker village ever to be built in the United States is facing large hurdles.

📅   Wed January 20, 2016 - Southeast Edition


Plans for a temporary worker housing facility in Lake Charles have been cancelled, adding to concerns of a housing shortage for construction workers on upcoming industrial projects.
Plans for a temporary worker housing facility in Lake Charles have been cancelled, adding to concerns of a housing shortage for construction workers on upcoming industrial projects.

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - Plans for a temporary worker housing facility in Lake Charles have been cancelled, adding to concerns of a housing shortage for construction workers on upcoming industrial projects.

Michael Dees, general counsel for the Port of Lake Charles, tells KPLC-TV (http://bit.ly/1SUx3BI) that a lease option ended last year. Pelican Village was advertised as the largest worker village ever to be built in the United States when Greenfield Logistical Solutions first broke ground for the facility in 2013. The project was expected to be completed by 2015

While the lease option has expired, Dees tells the American Press (http://bit.ly/1SUx8oW) that Greenfield is “still interested in pursuing an employee village-type development” on the property. He said there are seven other companies “all wanting to do the same thing.”

Greenfield could not be reached for comment.

Three other temporary housing villages have been approved by Calcasieu Parish officials. But a 2015 housing study by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance suggests the parish is unprepared for the influx of workers.

“There is an unmet demand at this point in time,” said Wes Crain, the parish's director of planning and development. “The latter part of 2016 and beginning of 2017 _ we think that's when the majority, or a lot of these workers, are going to be coming in here, so now's the time to take care of this and it really needs to get done.”

The projected demand for housing in 2016 is 17,000 units. Right now, only 10,000 units are expected to be available. Demand is expected to rise further in 2017.

“The workers are going to come in here and then, there's going to be folks that are going to try to accommodate that, Crain said. “And that could mean folks allowing people to move RVs on their property, renting out their homes or converting garages into beds, you know, so that's not really a desirable type of development or growth to happen.”

However, some residents have opposed worker villages. Even the current shortage projections depend on the three approved developments being built. Without them, the shortfall could be worse.

“I really hope people see the need for this,” Crain said. “I know a lot of people don't want it in their backyard but if we can get through this then this is just going to be great for our community and that's what we're trying to do.”