The study, being led by a local Parish planning committee and conducted by a team of TMG Consulting of New Orleans, T. Baker Smith of Thibodaux, and Digital Engineering of Kenner, will examine the parish’s needs for workforce and other housing, as well as the transportation and infrastructure needs to accommodate additional housing stock.
Lafourche Parish has always experienced healthy population growth near 1% over the last century. Yet the economy of the Parish has continued to be robust and diversified throughout this time, from fishing, to boat building, to the energy sector. While Lafourche’s demographics are very similar to the rest of the country, the unemployment rate has remained lower than the national average during the Great Recession. Even with the recent reduction in oil prices, the unemployment rate for the Parish has remained fairly stable at 5.2%, consistent with the rate over the last decade.
While the economy has been largely stable, the housing market is changing dramatically. The Parish has an extremely high proportion of middle class families relative to the overall population: 30% as compared to 12% nationally. The Parish also has a larger-than-average younger cohort of singles or young families, yet 20% of the Parish’s employment base is from outside of southeast Louisiana. It is clear that a substantial number of people are working in Lafourche Parish and living elsewhere. Not only does this phenomenon cause stress on transportation infrastructure, but the housing market has seen an influx of temporary housing and rising rents and housing values. This trend has positive impacts to the local economy and tax base, but it puts strain on local families in the housing market. The Parish itself also needs to evaluate how the temporary housing is affecting the community both today and in the future.
Much of the swings in worker activity is directly related to the energy sector. Because Lafourche Parish is centered on the water, so many of its core industries cannot relocate to other areas. The Parish aims to maintain its base of boat building and agriculture while also taking advantage of new opportunities in environmental science and eco-tourism.
Due to these ongoing economic shifts, the Parish commissioned a report on issues facing the parish with regard to existing housing stock, need for additional temporary or permanent housing, and transportation networks between residential neighborhoods and employment centers.
The Parish committee and consulting team is particularly interested in learning strategies to accommodate the employment base in South Lafourche. Developers, business owners, workers, and all members of the general public are encouraged to provide feedback to ensure everyone in the Parish has a voice in the planning process.