IP donates $10K to help combat city’s blight problem

Published 1:45 pm Friday, June 18, 2021

The International Paper Foundation recently issued a $10,000 check to Bogalusa Rebirth to eradicate blight in the city.

Mill Manager Bernie Chascin presented Bogalusa Rebirth Executive Director Wendy Williams Dupont with a check from International Paper, while demolition was underway on Main Street in Richardsontown on Tuesday morning.

International Paper Foundation provides grants to eligible organizations that focus on their signature causes. Duport stated that the grant was written with the objective of improving community “health and wellness” through blight eradication.

In her research, she has learned that studies show that abandoned, vacant and blighted structures have a negative effect on the recovery of a neighborhood. There is a direct correlation that these neighborhood hazards affect literacy scores and higher rates of chronic illness in pre-K children.

Because many of the blighted properties in Bogalusa date back to early-mid century, environmental hazards including asbestos and lead pant lead to the dangerous health conditions in our youth, Dupont said.

“Challenging enough, the eradication of these structures increase the cost of demolition and add a layer of remediation,” she said. “We are so excited and honored to have partnered with International Paper to address this issue in Bogalusa, and are ever so grateful for these much-needed funds that will assist us in improving public safety by returning dangerous properties to healthy uses.

“The success of this project will influence other home owners and landlords in the area, by inducing a ripple affect of community reinvestment that will help to avoid repetition of the blight that exist today.”

Bogalusa Rebirth is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. If you know of a dangerous structure that an owner would be willing to donate to the organization, these grant funds could be used to clean up the site. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, contact Dupont at 985-516-2005.

Bogalusa Rebirth has partnered with West 30’s Redemption Company to construct two new single-family homes at the site. If you would like to learn how to apply for one of the homes, attend the free annual housing resource fair being held Saturday, June 26, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at ESM United Methodist Church in Bogalusa, located at 510 Ave. B.