Project Build a Future Homes, The V. E. Washington Street Cottages
In 2001, Father Henry Mancuso of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and parishioner Willie King learned of Houston, Texas, area churches building quality, affordable housing on vacant lots.
They asked themselves if this model could work in Lake Charles where there were also empty lots and blighted property surrounding churches. The paperwork began and Project Build A Future (PBAF) officially came into being.
The first formal meeting was on fateful September 11, 2001—9-11—and this event was viewed as a catalyst for a response plan. Project Build a Future would help to rebuild lives by building quality homes in Lake Charles.
The organization’s name derives from the idea that home ownership could well be the beginning of building personal futures for many people, providing both the social capital and a source of wealth (equity) upon which people could literally and figuratively build a future.
PBAF boundaries include much of Lake Charles north of Broad Street and cover the Charpentier Historic District and the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District directly east of Charpentier. T
he neighborhood vernacular style of wooden bungalows and cottages, serve as the design impetus for the new floor plans and exterior facades. Special attention has been used to blend the new construction to the existing neighborhood in the 100+ PBAF homes built to date.
The most recent construction project, located on V. E. Washington Street (originally called Haskell Street) are six new affordable homes, which complete a row of eight PBAF cottages along this street. The street was renamed for Pastor V.E. Washington of the New Sunlight Baptist Church (which celebrated its 120th year in 2016) and is located just to the north of the build.
The newly constructed houses resemble a raised cottage but are slab based on raised fill. Modernized design details such as the carved and exposed rafter tails pay respect to the construction techniques of the surrounding older homes, and oversized window moldings nod to the 9’ and 10’ ceilings.
Front porches allow for visiting with neighbors, and work to strengthen the relationships between the new and seasoned residents.