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One Rouge Community Check -In - Week 151

Louisiana is increasingly prone to natural disasters. There is even an entire season dedicated to watching and preparing for hurricanes. The costs in the aftermath are oppressive for many. But quiet as kept, residents are also financially impacted by the availability of services to continue to rebuild. Part of the answer to bringing those costs down may be in sustainable housing. The outcome of healthy and affordable urban housing is paramount to sustainable housing. And this is all incredibly important because of the limitation of resources and the impacts on our environment. Favored materials have varied over the years, but hemp building materialsshow great promise! Join us this Friday as we hear about sustainable housing initiatives in South Louisiana from our featured speakers:

  • Joel Holton – Founder GroEnterprises

  • Andreanecia M. Morris - Executive Director for HousingNOLA

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Joel Holton: I'm the founder of Grow Enterprises. We are a sustainable housing development company located in New Orleans, Louisiana. And we look to provide sustainable resilient housing using industrial hemp-based building components in underserved communities in New Orleans in the surrounding area. We're really happy to be a part of this discussion today on how micro or tiny homes could be a real solution for our affordable housing crisis. But we also want to talk about how we can incorporate green infras. Enter our building designs to also alleviate and mitigate flood and storm water. It's a pleasure to be here to talk to everyone today, and I look forward to any questions that anyone may have concerning you know, what we're doing. And we're asking you in the process of pre-development for our first construction project that's gonna be located in Mid-City new Orleans. And it's gonna be used for transitional housing for members of the unhoused community who are looking to get more permanent housing. I think the main aspect that got me interested in the tiny homes was the fact that we're really having an affordability crisis in our city right now. And I just looked at it like if we use traditional methods to try to combat that we're just spinning our wheels. I think we're in the city. A lot of our families grew up in smaller home. So this is not like a foreign concept. I know my grandmother's house was roughly about 900 square feet, had three bedrooms. She raised 8, 9, 10 kids in there, and they all turned out pretty good. You see what I mean? So it's I think the modern idea that I need to have this big, spacious home is really just not attainable for a lot of individuals, especially buying their first home. And it's not really practical or affordable to maintain that type of home. So I think we need to reconstruct what a dream home looks like for members of our community. And we wanted to focus on healthier building materials better indoor air quality and sustainability and product, and using products that are more resilient to things that we deal with in our housing stock. Like moisture, mildew pest humidity. Just from my background in environmental and construction if you opened up every house in New Orleans, if you tore the walls open in most, in every house in New Orleans, I would say, I'd say safe to say 80 to 90% of 'em would have visible mold in those walls because of the way that we construct homes. And the materials that we use are mostly paper based and petrochemical based materials, so they're not very resilient to moisture. That's why we have the issues that we have in our climate. A lot of times it's not always just when we have a storm event or hurricane and different things like that there's a lot bigger things there. We also know that a lot of the cheaply built homes for affordable housing are built from products that off gas and have tremendous toxicity. In the material. So we are looking to use these industrial hemp-based products cause they're all natural. They contain no VOCs, and they also can regulate humidity in the built environment, which is a main thing for comfortability. And it can also lower your energy cost overall. So the thermal performance of the material is greater. The durability of the material is greater. These are the things that brought us here to get here. This has been a journey over about, about three years of research and networking and conversations and trainings to get us to where we are at now, to launch this first build in 2023. So it wasn't a short process, but I had to go outside of my region and around the country to really get the information that I needed. And I knew that I prepared for it.

Andreanecia Morris: All right. Good morning, everybody. I apologize. I am Andika Morris. I leave what we call the Foot Housing First Triad of organizations here in Louisiana. That's Housing nola, which works on what we call a not modestly. A revolutionary plan and strategy to end housing in security in the cities of New Orleans, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee. By engaging with community in a data driven process that helps community hold their elected officials accountable when it comes to making the correct housing investments. And in order to put housing first, the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance is the second part of the triad. It is a 5 0 1 that works across the state of Louisiana. To advocate and to lobby and to do electoral work. Around around that the put housing first mantra. And finally, housing Louisiana is the third third partner where we are helping Baton Rouge. Lake Charles, the home of Tip area, north Shore Monroe, central Louisiana. Shreveport and Lake Charles stand up their own regional housing alliances and resident led housing chapters in order to set their priorities locally to advocate and to engage and to put housing. First. We say put housing first, which we know is deliberately provocative because we know it can prove that every major crisis that is facing this country is is stumbling and struggling because of our failure to address housing security, to guarantee housing for all. Everything from education to criminal justice reform to voting rights. To climate change is being hampered by the fact that in this country housing is not seen as a need. It's not seen as something that needs to be guaranteed. It is seen as a marker of success. It is, it has been capitalized. It's a, it been perverted by the capitalism structure as well as unfortunately white supremacy because housing and the ownership of property. Is really what makes you a fully vested American. And so because of that because of that that psychological star we have these blind spots. Progressives have these blind spots. Conservative have these blind spots. People who struggle with housing insecurity have these blind spots. And so we have to spend time engaging with social, educating folks and helping folks understand how they can how housing policy can be impacted by the inside of their work. And how they can put housing first, non housing only put housing first in order to achieve their goals. So sustainability as it relates to housing is a critical component in addressing everything from disaster recovery. When we talk about strength in hurricanes, climate testified hurricanes coming on, on the gulf, the new tornadoes the new tornado valley that we live in. These rain events, these extended rain events, and so sustainability as well as the energy efficiency investments necessary to reduce our carbon footprint as well. And all of those things will make homes more affordable, will guarantee that people have homes, and strengthen our neighborhoods, strengthen our communities. It boggles my mind that so many people will talk about community in different aspects of their in different intersectional partners work. Anything from, again, education, voter rights, COVID health, you name it. They will talk about community and they will not talk about housing. And that in and of itself is unsustainable. That is, it's unsustainable to talk about community and to not talk about how people live in that community, the quality of housing. And I heard Joel talk earlier about. The way people think about housing, right? It's instead of thinking about your need because yes, you don't want the one bedroom house that raised a dozen children. Yes, they managed it, but they did not. It was not, it's it. We also don't want to go too far, skew too far to the right, right? So the welfare queen stereotype, which is, which plagues so much of our housing policies and our housing, the way we think about housing, that people wanna be given things. But we don't wanna go to the model minority either where people struggle with just a little bit and then, and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Everyone should have what they need, right? And so if you have 12 kids, a 12 a six bedroom, Is not out of line, right? That's a big house, right? But you don't need that when it's just you and your spouse having lived the end of your golden years. That house can be the home that, that six bedroom home could be home for one of your children to live in. And that family that, that mom and dad in the traditional model could move to something more reasonable. Something that, that, that fits their needs, or that home could be a home for another family that has that kind of need. That's how we need to be centering this is what do people need? What and what is sustainable in the long run. And of course, that means making sure that we live in Louisiana. That means these homes have to stand up to hurricanes. That means that it also means. That people need a way to evacuate and get out of harm's way and if the danger has passed, they need to be able to come back. So we're talking about strengthening the grid so that it's not simply them coming back or if the danger passed as it happened with hurricane Ida and people were, who were asked to shelter in place were Were instead treated to almost two weeks of unbearable conditions. We had more people die in southeast Louisiana after Hurricane Ida than we did as a result of the storm which is the direct impact of the storm, which is a problem, right? So that means our grid needs to be strengthened. And we also need to be mindful of the fact that in the name of sustainability, you're going to have a lot of middle class folks, people of color, people who live in cancer Alley. I'm from St. John the Baptist. I'm from Edgar, Louisiana. And my sister just over my, my, over my pro, my protest. And I tried really hard. They just put an act, they just put a gas whole home generator on her house because it's the place we shelter at and. She was like, look, I talked to the people about the solar battery in the backup storage. It costs too much money. It, I can't get, we can't get it done. My 77 year old father left Louisiana for the first time in his life after Hurricane Ida, cuz he was like, I can't do this. I don't want to do this. I'm not going to do this. He got two of his nephews to come and get him and bring him to North Carolina for the first time. And that was the first time my 77 year old father left Louisiana for anything other than a quick meeting in Mississippi at an activity in Texas. That's the first time he actually left the state and. And I kept trying to tell them, I was like, look, no we can if I can't find it, it means that it's not easily accessible and it's certainly not going to be affordable to people who needed to make those investments. All of you may know folks like this as well. Cuz whole home generators are natural gas power home generators have been a theme for quite some time. And I talked to our friends in the solar industry and our folks like Logan at the Alliance, portable Energy. I'm like, y'all have gotta get, we've gotta start talking about what solar power generators actually look like because middle class folks are going to buy them. And so much. We're gonna, and Danika, I have a quick question though, cuz we've been I apologize. Where are you? What happened? I apologize because there was something that I did not do, which is something I usually do is to ask that one of you. So our guests today for those of you who are joining us a little bit late, Joel Holden and Andrea Cordes. Can one of y'all tell us what do you mean when you say sustainable housing? Is this, that you can pay the rent every month or the mortgage? Does this mean that if it floods that you can move back into it? What does this term even mean? So for me, the first thing about it is that it, it's gotta be affordable. And that means, and I see a question down here about the affordable housing takes in account the family size. Absolutely. It needs to be affordable and sustainable. That's a, sustainability is a huge part of affordability and vice versa. If you, if the house is perfect for your needs, it is energy efficient. It can stand up to hurricanes and you can't pay one month rent or one month's mortgage. It's not sustainable it's, it can't be sustainable. So it's gotta be based on what the calculation that we use to qualify to, to determine what's, whether or not a house a home is affordable is if you're spending less than 30% of your gross income on your total housing costs. So that's, if you're a homeowner, it's principle and interest taxes and insurance, plus utilities. And if you are a renter, it's your rent plus utilities. Now, we also believe that for lower income families and households, that's accepted standard, we believe for lower income households that people basically who make below 80% of the area needing income, that number should be closer to 25%. Because you wanna make sure that people have enough money left over to save, to do things like plan to evacuate to be able to be gone for some time, or and also just because it's Friday, they need to be able to eat. They need to be able to buy medicine and so those are the key pieces around it. It's gotta be it's gotta be able to su support the family in the current environment. That means dealing with hurricanes, that means being elevated. It also means having a hard conversation about the community that it's in. Is it in a place, is it in a neighborhood that is prone the flooding? Have those community members been because the land was cheaper? Because there's not a lot of resources, there's not a lot of pull on the neighborhood. Is that why they've been marooned, as it were? It's also, so it can't just simply be about the math. The math is important. But it's one piece of the puzzle.

Pepper Roussel: Listen, Andrea, you've been saying that 30% of h of income should be going to housing for years, and I'm still trying to find out why the math ain't math. And but Joel, you approached this a little bit different, right? So tell us sustainable, what does that mean for y'all

Joel Holton: sustainability? I definitely agree with everything said as far as the numbers and the costs. But for sustainability, to us it means a little bit more in depth of the type of materials that we use. So we use we try to use more carbon negative materials because we know building is like one of the biggest polluters in the world as far as carbon emissions. So we try to use carbon negative building products. We also use environmentally friendly building products that are more resilient to water, moisture, mill, mildew, mold, and pests. So we all know in New Orleans some of the biggest. Culprits of our housing stock is either water damage, mold, mildew, or pest termite damage. So we use products that can be resilient to all those things and also can regulate humidity in a built environment. So that means like after a storm, we know it's very, it is usually in the summer, it's very hot. So if somebody was in a home that we built, that the indoor temperature in that building would maintain a constant regulated temperature, not the same temperature as outside. So that means if you could set up a fan or any kind of air mo movement in that space, it would keep a more comfortable temperature. So as people recover, who stayed in place would be able to be there. And in all of our designs, we are gonna, I implement stormwater management and green infrastructure installations. That's part of the intentional design. To regulate and mitigate flooding in these different communities. We're looking forward to working with the city and organizations like Andrew NICU to show the model of the proof of concept and say, Hey, look this lot can also be a green lot where we have green infrastructure, and it also can have a housing structure that is affordable. So it becomes more of an asset to the community and not just another house that's built.

Pepper Roussel: Fantastic. All right. So not everybody can afford a house. As the, our good for Manny put in the chat that the same size tiny house up in New York would be somewhere around 800 K, which I personally have thought is ridiculous for a long time. Why I don't live in New York. It's a different conversation. How. Is this a matter of specifically as we were talking about downsizing and moving into smaller spaces so that it's easier to afford to maintain? Not just if you're purchasing, but if you're renting. So utilities, right? We all ha I, you know what, let me not project, I have a beef every year with energy with these rates. So how do we get folks to be in spaces that are smaller so that it is more easy to afford and to pay the utilities that are part of my housing costs every month? I think the first thing, you gotta the materials. I was gonna say the first, I was gonna say, Joel just talked about the quality of the house and I think that those things that cannot be overlooked because it's because.

Andreanecia Morris: As we move to better building technologies, it's going to become more expensive. And then once we get to that, this is more accepted, then the prices will balance out and the prices will shift around. I think one of the things that we have to do is talk to people about what their needs actually are, and we have to have an honest conversation with folks, right? You have to we can't just simply tell people, this is something that happens a lot in progressive politics is we try to tell people what's best for them. This is what's best for you and you should do it. And it happens with everything from land trust to climate change, to a number of innovations that, that a number of initiatives that we need to be looking at and density. Is we've also gotta examine the biases that are already there. Density is a dirty word in a lot of communities because that's what you're talking about, pepper. And that's what we need to be looking at. And density is not a dirty word in the minds of people of color. The people who need to be, need better housing opportunities and need more affordable housing made available for them. They need housing, guaranteed. They need us to move to the housing guaranteed model. It is on that white supremacy spectrum. It is the weapon of mostly white communities who are practicing nimbyism, right? They are saying, not in my backyard. They don't want more people living in their communities, accessing their resources. And they have managed to to frame it as a negative. And so we've gotta deal with. We've got to deal with that. We can't simply say, this is better. Your li your light bill is going to be lower. But if you think that is, that you have somehow accepted less than, that's why what Joel is talking about is so important. Making sure people understand that these are quality houses, these are materials that are going to improve their quality of life. And it is going to be more expensive. It is gonna cost more, but it's better for everyone in the long run. But we've gotta deal with the blind spots and the biases that are not just in the white community, but it also that are also in inside of the communities of color because folks do not want to. Take their part of their American dream and suddenly find it being less than what white people have been able to use to build a massive amount of wealth and to explode the racial wealth gap. So when we're talking about all of this when we, it often we say this to people of color first no you need to do something. You need to get a smaller house and you need to do this. And the refrain from community is awful, often white people first. And that's not happening,

Joel Holton: One of the things I wanted to talk about was also the performance of the materials that we used. So this hemp industrial, hemp based insulation is a high performing insulator. So we are talking about 30 to 40% decrease in energy usage overall in the structure. So that's a starting point that where if you want to truly make something affordable, you have to find ways to make it affordable. And that comes down to materials. And one of the biggest things that I want to illustrate to everybody is that even though these houses are more more costly to build right now, over the next five to 10 years, they will actually become less expensive to build as our farming of industrial hemp and processing increases. So there's a better local supply chain of the materials that we need, which also is like a circular economy where we're empowering the urban and the rural to work together to make this happen and to solve problems and to create economic development and community revitalization amongst the community members. And it's not. This outside source is coming in trying to save the days as actually us working together to provide solutions and economic opportunities to each other. So the that's where we need to go. And that's why it's so important for me to have some proof of concept bills around the city. Stakeholders and community members can come and see what this is really because the theory didn't really hit me until I went to new Castle, Pennsylvania and went and saw what they were doing in Pennsylvania with the same situation. It was a public-private partnership nonprofit hired a friend of mine who was the contractor who built and refurbished an old blighted house in a community that was downtrodden by lack of opportunity, economic depression, drug abuse, all the same things we deal with in New Orleans. But it just so happened that a lot of those people didn't look like me, but they were dealing with the same issues. And they put together a project that empowered not only the people in the community, but the people who worked on the project. And just it made sense. It, the light bulb went off for me. And I know that this is a solution that we can use in our city to do great things and around the state. Thank you

Casey Phillips: Joel. I wanted to there's a couple of folks on the call that I wanted to see if anything was coming up for them around sustainability and sustainable building practices and in Baton Rouge, what is needed? Wendy Daniels I see your name. I'm gonna say, what's up? Alfredo Cruz Kinda prepping you as well. We got Councilman Gaudet here. Rowdy. Are you are you able to come off mute? I can, unless

Rowdy Gaudet: you're gonna put me on the spot to speak like I'm an expert. No, I can't. Good morning to y'all.

Casey Phillips: You obviously have served in many roles from the state level to working in the city and now as a councilman and both from disaster response and recovery just all the way across the board. So I'd love to see if anything's like coming up for you and then if you wanna specifically talk about your district and affordable and sustainable housing practices. The good, the bad and all, everything in between.

Rowdy Gaudet: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity and certainly didn't par any remarks, but I'll just speak. I do have some experience just from a professional background in community development, probably enough to be dangerous and not enough to hang with the likes of Andika and Joel. But but what I love over the last few years, particularly in south Louisiana, is that the terms of resilient housing have come into the same conversation as affordable housing because both have to be done at the same time. For me as a council member, recognizing that the cost right now and of everything has gone. Our ability to have affordable and sustainable housing in our community jumps up on the priority list for Baton Rouge. So I actually, I, I hope in the next month or so you'll actually see something come out to the Metro Council that I believe will work to for further affordable housing in our community. It's something I'm working on now not public just yet, but still working through the finer details of it. It is something that I wanna see continue in our community now, where I represent the district that I'm fortunate enough to represent in East Baton Rouge Parish is the far southern part of our parish. Landmarks you'll recognize Nicholson Drive, Burbank Drive. Some of Highland Road out towards the blue Bayou area blue Bayou waterpark area. So what I have said to people is, three years ago when I ran the conversation, for me as a potential metro council member, was that's the area that's right for development A year into my term. The conversation was, we need to stop developing in your district because that's all wetlands. And so again, I'm jumping back to that discussion of sustainable housing because I think for a lot of folks in Baton Rouge, their mindset shifted a bit from let's keep developing and look, there's the open land where we can do it to wait a minute, we seem to be developing those areas. And my house is from 1990s and now I'm getting water when I never did before. So trying to figure out that balance and the sustainability of it and where we develop and how we develop. Again, it's another discussion that I wanna have, so maybe I'm rambling at this point. I should yield to the experts to continue the conversation.

Casey Phillips: No, man, thanks for that. And I do think it's it's a whole separate conversation about just be what's the old saying? Just because you can doesn't mean you should, right? Yeah. And there you go. And there is and then there are people's rights. There's the private sector. It's way more complicated than people want. You can't stop at the place that fits in your value system. Yeah. There's a lot of other people. And so then but the lack affordable housing. Yeah. Just on the edge of your district as well into Ascension Parish causes a tremendous strain in a lot. And it's a part of the conversation that people very rarely have here. They're just focused on your district, but right on Yoder, on the other side of the road there is no public transportation infrastructure. And this creates this interconnected issue that gets even even worse as the expansion of the sprawl continues. And so it's a deeper conversation. Rowdy, as always, thanks for thanks for all that you do, and it's good to have you in the space. Thank you. Thank y'all for doing these calls. Yes, sir. Wendy Daniels. Wendy I honored and did not put the microphone in front of you at assembly required, but this is this is a little bit more of an intimate setting. I wanted to see if you had any thoughts that you wanted to share before we go back to our speakers and Peppers questions?

Wendy Daniels: Good morning. I cannot believe you call me out on this. This is only my second time participating and I just jumped on. Apologize if I'm saying things that have already been said as it relates to sustainability especially in the affordable housing world, I think it's a real issue. The challenge oftentimes in my eyes, are there not subsidies or additional dollars that are supporting our ability to I guess meet the needs as it relates to sustainability. So the housing program has become very aggressive in green building fortified gold standards a lot of the important things that we need to do to ensure that we are providing quality, affordable housing, but the dollars have not followed that program and or has not followed those programs. And it's harder and harder to do affordable housing right now with just basic construction costs and the cost of land and things like that. And I just I hope at some point the state, federal government our cities can find the dollars that we need to really meet the demands of some of these sustainability programs.

Casey Phillips: Thank you, Wendy. And just the, just to get clarity, is it a lack of political will? Are we talking scarcity of dollars or are we just talking about there's not a political will to put the dollars there and those dollars are being allocated in other directions, just to get a little bit of clarity.

Wendy Daniels: I think that's an interesting question. I think it, when there is political will, oftentimes there isn't a scarcity issue. I think that there is money out there and so if the political will requires that the money be made available, I think it's made available In everything that you didn't just say. Thank you, Wendy. I appreciate you Amanda. Thank you. And thank you for letting me put you on Blast. And everybody, if y'all remember, Wendy as said, was one of our speakers several months ago, years ago. I don't know. It all blurs together at 160 plus weeks. But Wendy, thank you for coming back into the cut. And I hope that you continue to hear me holler and say hello to y'all every time I walk by your house. On a daily basis, pepper.

Pepper Roussel: So I wanna keep with this theme. There were so many others that popped up and we've got a ton of great questions that are in the chat. But how are lawmakers and others listening and supporting the academic and citizen science, which is the important part of this comp? This question, citizen science about what people should be doing and following through, and this, when I say Citi, when Citizen science is really about elevating the lived experience of folks who were there. Not folks who come in with multiple degrees and say, this is what should be happening, which harkens back to something that Anika said earlier.

Andreanecia Morris: So that's easy. They don't. You only have to look at what's happening with the, you have to look at what's happening. Look at what's happening with the insurance crisis, which is the ultimate expression of this failure, right? We have now gotten to the place where Louisiana as a state people across the state of Louisiana, it is unsustainable from a financial perspective. Part of the reason that is, as much as it would be so much fun to rail against big insurance companies and crooked insurance companies and insurance lobbyists and all of those things are true. And it stands right now because we have failed to make the kind of strategic investments in our housing stock because we have taken the disaster dollars that have come in here, and we have not invested in communities to make their homes stronger, to make their homes more resilient, to make their homes more sustainable. We are now a bad bet. We're a bad bet, not just simply, oh, the insurance lobbyists are overwhelming us, and the companies are crooked. You look at the the ana, the underwriting analysis, we're a bad bet. And instead of saying, let's take the Fourt five standard and let's take the new code that we have, let's take the building sciences that Joel is talking about and make the investments necessary to to make us a better bet. We have our legislators just proposed, giving 45 million to insurance companies so that they can be incentivized to write policies to people who can, who, who don't need. Instead of making the housing stock stronger, instead of making it more resilient, instead of making it more sustainable and making, and people need help to do that, and we're gonna ignore all these blue tarps still on the homes of people, we're gonna ignore all these folks who've not been able to come back since Hurricane Katrina. Forget about the hurricane since then. The 2016 floods and Baton Rouge people are still not back from that flooding event. Instead of making those investments, we're gonna give insurance companies some money and in a program that has already failed. The insurance commissioner took a hundred million after Hurricane Katrina. They only managed to spend 24 million in this program, and the insurance crisis was not as bad as it is now. One of the companies we have found in just a cursory examination already failed to do a similar program in Florida, yet they are on the commissioner's list to get not just the 45 million that he talks to legislators into giving him, he wants to come back and get another 15 mil, another 17 million to give all of these companies so they're not listening.

Pepper Roussel: Jesus. If Reverend Anderson were here, I know she would say vote because it's important. There was a question that was earlier about building and living with water. But and I'm gonna change it a little bit because it wasn't, because there are many things that we can discuss around living with water and Andika was with her crazy talk about sustainability and climate change and solar power a little bit earlier, which are all necessary things, but also super unex un super expensive in many ways. If we are building to live in a place where we are expecting water to intrude on our lawns what does that look like? What does the outside property look like? How much space is there for these tiny spaces? These tiny homes? Do we have super duper lots that will absorb the water, or are we talking about concrete or blacktop where it just sits there and runs off into hopefully gutters?

Joel Holton: For us it's more where we would have the lot act as a green infrastructure instrument to mitigate the storm water. So it would be part of the design. I'm back. So it isi it is utilizing the land in a way that we are putting these green infrastructure installations in the mix where it's part of the design and then the housing is also built in a way to where it's more resilient to water moisture and mildew as well. So everything we came up with at Grow Enterprises is how do we deal with water in the built environment and also mitigate stormwater and floodwater management. So it's gotta be like a holistic approach to, to the problem. That can be anything from a rain garden instead of a regular landscaping instrument. It can be more permeable pavers instead of a concrete driveway. It can be rain harvesting and a rain barrel. All of these elements contribute to how we can mitigate flooding in our neighborhoods. But it's gotta be like a holistic approach. It can't just be like, Hey, I just put a rain barrel there so everything will be good. It's no, how can I be the example? So I one of my companies, we own a lot in the seventh Ward, and we're looking to build out this concept later on this year. So we want to turn the lot into a green infrastructure instrument where we have permeable paving, we have french drains, we have rain gardens, we have bio retention on the lot, and we also have a tiny home built out him. So that is how we want to illustrate the model of saying, Hey, I can get other people on this block to buy into what we doing because I'm actually solving a problem. So instead of the street flooding and people not can't get into their cars when it's a heavy rain, now they can, because Joel decided to do this with his property. So what can I do next door to the houses down to implement some of these strategies to further alleviate the flooding issue around the city in my neighborhood? I think everything that I'm looking to do is solving direct problems. It's not for the pat on the back or said, we built this green home outta hemp. It's amazing. It's no we're checking off the checklist. Like we want sustainable, affordable, resilient housing. Check. This is what this looks like and we have to. Stop using conventional thought process to solve our problems. I think that's been the biggest problem over the last 10 to 15, 20 years, is like we keep doing the same damn thing and think something else is gonna come about while we keep doing the same things that don't work. And we know that and it's hurting our communities more so because they can't afford the insurance, they can't afford to rebuild, they can't get back into their homes. So we it is time to just get out of that box and start thinking with more innovation in mind and more sustainability about it.

Pepper Roussel: So there's also a question in the chat, is vertical versus horizontal building a factor in the case of depleting the land? And I wanna tack onto that. How does that differ between urban and rural environments? Because we do have rural folks who are housing insecure.

Andreanecia Morris: This is where we have to talk about the blind spots, right? Because there is this resistance and we have to get over the blind spots. We have to be talking about doing this for the most vulnerable, and it that bubbling up to help everyone else. Because what we've been doing is hoarding these innovations for people who can afford them. Perfect example, the solar tax credit, which was actually which they cut down a few years ago. So that you could get, you could put solar panels in your house and you did it through a tax credit. They're currently right now trying to put tax credits in to do the new roofing standards. This is an inherently equitable way of feeding this kind of investment because it, number one, require it, it only allows people who can afford it, who confront the money to take advantage of it. And then they get it as a reward on their taxes. That is a specific kind of homeowner. Number one. It's gonna be for a homeowner only. It's not going to be something that a property investor a landlord can take advantage of easily. So you're only you're focusing on homeowners only who already get, who are already the recipients of the largest subsidy program that we have in this country. The housing subsidy program that we have in this country. When the way Wendy framed the frame answered the question about is it political will or is it scarcity is exactly right. We, there is no scarcity when you have the political will. The biggest housing subsidy program in this country is a subsidy program that provides a tax credit to homeowners and more money. About 45 billion go to households who make more than 200 million, $200,000 a year. I'm gonna say that again. The biggest segment of that program is 45 billion annually. That goes to households who make more than $200,000 a year. If you make more than $200,000 a year, why do you need a housing subsidy? That segment of the housing subsidy program is bigger than Section eight and public housing. Put together, we give more housing subsidy to people who make more than $200,000 a year helping. Fewer families, by the way. So we have got to we've gotta recognize this mindset that we have as Americans. This is not a, just a Louisiana problem. This is an American problem. And so we've gotta say we need to make these investments for the most vulnerable because that's what makes the most sense. Because the other problem with doing things for the folks who can afford it is also bad business. It does not create an industry, a sustainable industry. The logic is these folks will do it and then they'll figure out how to sell it to somewhere else. No the people you do it for the people who need it. You subsidize it for the people who need it, and then the people who can afford it, number one, there's more people who need it and can't afford it. And then you, so you get a real industry going. You get a real market going that people who can afford to do it and particularly we cannot leave out renters. We cannot leave out investors. Again. I know it's big fun to make fun of the landlords. They can be pains in the ass. They are, and they are not. They're not bad people, but they ain't good people either. And they're business people. So this, for a business strategy, if there is a market, if there's a way for them to access these resources, it improves their investment. It allows it to be more resilient, more sustainable, putting in and letting them make more money. And it helps the family, the household, the people who live in it have a quality home that is win-win as it gifts instead of focusing on the people who can afford it and giving them an incentive to do it. And thinking that is a how you spur a market. I'm not gonna be one per, I'm not gonna be a person who caps for capitalism. Cause I think that's part of the problem. But I also think it's, we're not doing capitalism. That's not capitalism. That's corporate welfare, that's welfare for rich people. This isn't actually capitalism. So we need to be doing things that make sense and that's a huge part of moving us forward.

Pepper Roussel: Did you wanna jump in on that?

Joel Holton: Yeah. And I think also from a business standpoint, we need more business minded people and entrepreneurs who are more socially aware and socially conscious and want to make those investments of time and effort and resources into those communities. And that's our mission. And we also want to be able to train individuals from those communities to work in these new innovative building practices. So we're generating a sustainable economy and not just doing a good thing where we can actually. Build economics and and other businesses and individuals to rebuild their own community in a way that is sustainable and meaningful. These are the type of issues that we have addressed as a social enterprise to move things forward is yeah, every, I'm a businessman at heart for sure. I enjoy making a profit, but I also enjoy making an impact a lot more at this stage of my career. So it's like I see a need, I see problems, I try to solve 'em with good solutions and also empower other people and other community members to do the same. It is a reason that the first Hemp creek wall in the city of New Orleans and the first industrial hemp back insulation is at Dr. Angela Chalks Healthy Community Services Learning Center in the seventh Ward. That was intentionally done, not only because of our relationship, because I wanted to show community members in that community that there is different, more innovative ways to do things. We will have more education and outreach opportunities happening later this year to where we can bring people out to different sites so they can actually see this process unfold and understand what it is we're trying to do. So

Pepper Roussel: thank you both. So for those of you who have not thrown your questions into the chat and the ones that haven't been answered, cause I've seen the thank you Andika for going in and answering some of the questions before I got to 'em. Please drop them in the chat. We've got a few minutes left and I wanna make sure that we do get all the questions answered. There's just so much here. And so when we talk about the blue tarps, I, the. The blindness at this point. There's so many, the, especially out towards New Orleans East, where you still see the blue tarps and at some point you might just paint the house to match the blue tarp because it doesn't look like it's coming off anytime soon. This is just real. But I will ask the question Joel, so as we talk about, or as you talk about the hemp building materials, I gonna be not, I won't say it's provocative, but I'm gonna ask the stupid question because most people don't wanna ask the stupid questions. What is the advantage to that? Does it burn? Does it get mold? Do I get high if I'm sitting inside of it? What?

Joel Holton: And these are all great questions that have been asked by bankers and other people. They, I remember being on a call with a commercial banker as we was trying to get funding for a project, he said, and she asked me, would people get high if they sit in this house, and will it affect them in any kind of way? And I said, no they won't. But what will happen is that they will not have moisture, mildew issues, mold issues termite issues, and it will actually be a healthier indoor environment because the hemp acts as a air purification system in the built environment to actually purify any toxins or contaminants out of the built environment. And she was like, oh, wow. I didn't know it did all that. And it's very fire resistant as well. It's also a very acoustic performance performing materials. So if you had a noisy next door neighbor or live close to a ma major thorough way, it would help to reduce the sound pollution and noise pollution in the building environment as well. So it's, these are questions, and that's why I say from our standpoint as a social enterprise, we have to do a lot more education and outreach to individuals and agencies and stakeholders. It's important that people understand because it is in our region, when you start talking about hemp or cannabis in different elements like that, it's very demonized. That was also a reason why we put the the materials in Dr. Angeles space because She's not a proponent of cannabis or hemp or anything like that, but she does see the utility and the value. And that's the thing you don't necessarily have to be a cannabis supporter to understand that this is a better material from what we're using. Also, that these materials are non-toxic. So when we're installing these like for insulation for example, so when we're installing this insulation, we don't have to worry about breathing, respiratory hazards, irritation, hazards. You can touch the material, you can rub it on your face, you can sleep on it if you wanted to. All these things are big factors into how to use more innovative materials and how we can actually build a workforce that can use and work with these materials because they're not very hard to work. It's very primitive skillset that you need to be able to work with these type of materials. So that's what we wanna bring to the table as well. And during our first build, we'll actually be training three individuals from the community to build our first tiny home. So every project that we do, we want to add more and more individuals to that number. So we're actually training a workforce that can maintain and build these projects.

Dr. Lisa Vosper: Hey, I'm driving and I was gonna try to type a question, but just cause of what Joel said, is it okay for me to jump in and ask it? Yeah. Yes, please. Thank you. That was my question to Joel in terms of the workforce is, are there any plans to have training or creating some type of training for individuals to design build the various aspects of the tiny house tiny home population through our community and technical college systems? Are there things that we can do to help in that regard? So that was just a question I wanted to get on the table.

Joel Holton: Yes. That is a, to answer your question is a major component of what we want to do. We are looking to partner with either technical colleges other agencies that provide workforce development training to implement this in, into part of their programming. So everything from design, that design aspect, To the actual construction aspect but also teaching individuals the meaning of sustainability and resiliency and green building. Like why we need to start using these types of materials and the importance and what they really bring to the table for the community members who are gonna live and work on these projects. Yeah I'm seeking that collaboration to bring these training.

Dr. Lisa Vosper: I'll get Casey and Pepper to us, and we can have a conversation offline on the best way to go about bringing about a curriculum through our community and technical college system.

Joel Holton: Okay. I would love that because that's we have a partner out of Los Angeles who is coming to work with us and he's developed the curriculum and everything. We just want to implement. Almost like a second phase of what they're doing in LA here in New Orleans and in South Louisiana. So we have a lot of the pieces, but we need to put it all together. So I'll look forward to speaking with you.

Pepper Roussel: Woohoo. All right, so we are at nine 30 and I only had an Angelica for a solid hour, so I wanna make sure that I say thank you to both of you before you've gotta jump. I really, super duper appreciate not only being here and sharing your your institutional knowledge, but also giving opportunities for those who are, and I can see in the chat the fluttering communications, the people who wanna be involved in what it is that you're doing and how it impacts them in their their segments. So thank y'all so much. Any last words before? You gotta go.

Andreanecia Morris: Thank you so much, pepper and everyone for having us here this morning. It was exciting. Joel, I wanna circle back with you as well. One thing that we should note is that last year, last year's session, we actually got past a new energy conservation code here in Louisiana that improved our building qualities, including raising our roofing standards that are mirroring the four to five standards that will allow your insurance rates to be lower. And so people need to be paying attention to that kind of. Does those kind of things. As we're talking about improving standards, we also need to be looking at things like code enforcement across Louisiana. There's a common practice that of public officials like code enforcement are actually contractors that are farmed out to consulting companies yes, to consultants because we don't have enough qualified code enforcement. So when we are looking at, when we're looking at jobs in the, in, in the industry, we also need to be looking at the entire spectrum inside of the housing and building industry. In the construction industry because as this is one of the biggest problems to the kind of innovation that we need to take root, we don't have people who are qualified to shepherd that all the way through. And so we need to look at the entire spectrum and it is exciting. To hear more about the kind of work that Joel and his partners are doing. We absolutely can implement these things, right? And so that's also a part of addressing the blind spots when we take, when we do innovative things and then we fall flat. And the, one of the best and worst examples of this, unfortunately, is the Make it Right program here in New Orleans. That has settled to a place of amenity and, but it didn't have to fail. Part of the reason it failed is that they didn't listen to the needs of community. They didn't they were paternalistic. And also a, that's why I wanna caution everybody what a lot of people don't know about those houses is they have backup batteries and storage. And they have been famed, they've been infamous in a good way about the fact that those 10, not tenant, say homeowners, those homeowners get checks from entity because they create so much power, it goes back into the grid and they get checks. But one of the things that a lot of people don't know is that make it right in a paternalistic move made it so before, when net zero was actually legal was allowable, they made it so those houses couldn't be independent from the grid because, and I quote, they didn't want anyone to stay. When a hurricane happens. And then, so that's the kind of so you have the innovation, you have the technology, but you didn't listen to community. And that was the first harbinger that something was wrong in that inside of that organization. And we've learned more now, what's wrong? That's where I wanna urge everybody on this call. We do need to embrace the kind of technology that Joel was talking about, those kind of programs you all have to be able to make sure that community is on board for this and that it is designed in a way to, to help them.

Joel Holton: Yes. And I just like to follow up on Angelica's speech here. It, it is time for us to start thinking outside the box and using more innovation when it comes to our housing stock and our communities. That have not been invested in. So I just like to thank everybody put my contact info into the chat. If you wanna reach out to me, feel free and to learn more about what we're doing and what we have coming up this year. Just it's a pleasure to speak on these topics because a lot of times, I think in Louisiana, especially New Orleans, we just keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result, and that's not gonna work. We need more socially minded entrepreneurs like myself to step outside the box, step outside the comfort zone to try to bring more innovation and creativity to some problems that are not gonna go away unless we do something about 'em. Appreciate everybody's time.

Pepper Roussel: Joel, before you go, don't you have something coming up in

Joel Holton: Yes. July. Yeah. Around summertime we actually are not having the fundraiser that we wanted to have, but we'll be starting the production of the wall panels for the house for the tiny home. So our style of buildings, like a offsite prefab construction style where we can control the elements a lot better. And then we build on site in a, like a structural panel type of build style. When we start the wall construction we're gonna be working at a local production studio where we're doing that, so we'll be creating some really great content, but we also will be inviting stakeholders and community members to come in and actually see the material, see how we do what we do, and see some of the special sauce there so people can start understanding. And for me, it didn't really hit home until I could go to a house and see what it was. And I'll leave you with one quick story cause I know we run out of time. But when I went to New Castle, Pennsylvania for the, at the house that was built from the hemp insulation in Pennsylvania, it was the middle of the summer. It was about 94 degrees outside. And I walked in that house and nothing was up in the house, but the framing and the insulation and the roof, it was in the windows and the doors. And I was in the house for two hours and the temperature inside the house never got over 70, 40 degrees, even though the temperature outside was at 90 plus. And it was from like 10 o'clock, 12 o'clock in the morning to about two o'clock in the afternoon. And that's when I realized that this is the type of material that we need to be using could build our house with stock, because it, it maintains and it regulates a constant temperature no matter what's going on outside. So just leave y'all with that nugget and we'll be sharing, follow us on Instagram as they say these days, and you'll see some of the progress that we're making on our projects.

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