ABOUT THE PROJECT
The HUD-approved Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement proposal was developed by Isle de Jean Charles (IdJC) tribal leaders in response to a Federal “Notice of Funding Availability” (NOFA) that called for innovative community responses to the devastating effects of climate change. The proposal development has been supported by partners at The Lowlander Center and a team of experts in community development, planning, climate science, hazard mitigation, and other relevant fields.
The primary aims of the project are:
Chief Albert Naquin, the Tribal Council, and other members of the tribe have been committed for 16 years to resettle, having had their hopes dashed on two previous attempts due to forces and challenges beyond their control. They have learned from their experiences; built critical partnerships; and created a sustainable, innovative, and thorough plan for their community to move from survivors to leaders in the global effort to adapt in a time of change.
Their time has finally come! Louisiana’s Office of Community Development (OCD) included the IdJC Resettlement Project, almost exactly as the tribe and their partners conceived it, alongside proposals from across Louisiana in the state’s application to HUD’s NOFA. In the words of the state’s January 25, 2016 press release, “Approximately $48 million of the award is dedicated to resettling the Isle de Jean Charles Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe. . . . The award will fund a resettlement model that is scalable, transferrable and supportive of cultural and social networks.” For more details please explore www.coastalresettlement.org.
The complete project, which consists of moving families, measures to ensure a historically contextual and culturally appropriate resettlement, and program evaluation for teaching other coastal communities, is estimated at $100 million. A highly-qualified team of professionals assisting the tribe has developed designs and programs that won federal approval. HUD funding requires a safe and durable development to serve as a national model. Being the first of its kind in the country, buildings will be energy-efficient and protected from storm damage, land use will be sustainable and productive, and a close-knit and self-supporting community will encourage positive relations and economic development.
Traditional Chief Albert Naquin is recognized by the parish as IdJC’s Chief, therefore having oversight responsibilities to look after its residents and their safety. It is a priority of the State and a commitment in the proposal to develop a new site and begin by accommodating the families most threatened by storm surge. And while there is no requirement to move, a majority of the Island residents have affirmed that they want to. In addition, tribal members scattered in the area also wish to join those remaining on the Island in the new community to reconstitute their Tribal community lost due to the movement off the island of members after the devastating storms. Chief Albert has committed to making a safer place available, because at some point their traditional lands will be accessible only by boat and then will be washed away.