GCC and CRPC Flood Resilience and Affordable Housing Partnership in Louisiana's Region 7 Watershed

In spring of 2021, the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) and the Capital Region Planning Commission (CRPC) in Louisiana launched an innovative partnership to support Louisiana communities in the state’s Region 7 Watershed in protecting people from flooding risks and promoting resilient, affordable housing. Bringing together GCC's nationally recognized expertise in climate adaptation law, policy, and planning, and CRPC's expertise in watershed resilience work, the two organizations are working together through 2022 to engage policymakers and community stakeholders to develop legal and policy resources to:

  1. Mitigate flood risk across areas in Louisiana that are mapped as low-, moderate-, and high-flood-risk (through strategies like expanding green space and nature-based solutions); and 
  2. Encourage affordable housing and other investments in locations becoming or expected to become receiving areas as flood risk increases.

Louisiana is one of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S. as climate change and sea-level rise make extreme weather events and regular flooding more intense and frequent. These challenges often fall “first and worst” on communities of color, low-income communities, and Indigenous communities, who reside in the Louisiana Watershed Initiative's Region 7. Affordable, resilient housing initiatives are critical to ensuring equitable adaptation that takes into consideration the myriad overlapping challenges these communities face.

This work is guided by a work group of individuals with expertise on Louisiana’s climate challenges and the increasing impacts of flood risk to housing. Members include directors of departments in local parishes, leaders of regional non-governmental organizations, academic researchers, and others. The work will also be informed by research and recommendations laid out in GCC's Managed Retreat Toolkit, which draws on best and emerging practices and case studies from across the country of states and communities integrating managed retreat into their adaptation strategies. 

As a Regional Planning and Development District, CRPC is the coordinating agency for the Louisiana Watershed Initiative in Region 7. This partnership with GCC will expand on current efforts to support the Initiative's long-term resilience goals.

Outreach and Engagement

In November 2021, GCC and CRPC hosted two virtual visioning sessions with Louisiana residents, planners, policymakers, community leaders, and other participants to discuss increasing flooding and disaster events affecting Louisiana, and brainstorm solutions toward resilience, affordable housing, environmental justice and equity, and flood mitigation. Each event was guided by a local, independent facilitator. Participants shared their expertise, lived experiences, and goals for community resilience in Region 7 and beyond. Ongoing conversations like these will continue to shape how GCC and CRPC develops these planning resources and how they are used to inform resilience and affordable housing initiatives.

Project Work Group

This work is being guided by the work group members below, who are graciously lending their knowledge and lived experiences in Louisiana to this effort in Region 7.

  • Bridget Bailey
    Director of the Office of Community Development with Tangipahoa Parish
  • Angela Chalk
    Founder and Executive Director of Healthy Community Services
  • Dr. Thomas Douthat
    Associate Professor with Louisiana State University, College of the Coast and Environment
  • Dr. Monica Teets-Farris
    Director of UNO-CHART (University of New Orleans-Center for Hazards Assessment, Response, and Technology)
  • Jerome Fournier
    Director of Planning and Development with Ascension Parish
  • Devin Foil
    Planner with HNTB
  • Dr. Robert Habans
    Economist with the Data Center
  • Lyneisha Jackson
    Community Planner with the Center for Planning Excellence
  • Ross Liner
    Director of Planning and Development with St. Tammany Parish
  • Andreanecia Morris
    Executive Director of Housing New Orleans/Housing Louisiana
  • René C. Pastorek
    Director of Planning and Development with Saint John the Baptist Parish
  • David Summers
    Chief Operating Officer of Partners Southeast
  • Nichelle Taylor
    Program Director for Policy Development and Implementation with Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance
  • Karen Zito
    Executive Director of Homebuilders Association of Greater Baton Rouge

For questions and more information, contact GCC Senior Associate and project lead Katie Spidalieri at Katie.Spidalieri@georgetown.edu.

This work is generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.