In the dark and uncertain days following Hurricane Katrina, the residents of the Lafitte housing development were unsure of the future of their community. Mrs. Emelda Paul, a Lafitte resident, received word from a friend that iron doors had been put in place to keep residents from returning to their homes in Lafitte. “I was really upset about the whole thing,” says Emelda, a long-time resident leader, “Naturally I wanted to come back home. We all wanted to come back home.”
Emelda’s philosophy on life is to be curious and courageous, a perspective she earned when she realized the consequences of not standing up and speaking up. This outlook has served her and the Lafitte community well. With passion, conviction, and determination, Emelda embraced new challenges over the years and sought to improve herself and her community at every turn. “I wanted to see something better for our people,” she says.
Working in partnership Providence Community Housing, Emelda became an influential advocate for the Lafitte community. “We had several meetings in New Orleans. We went to Baton Rouge and then on to Houston and Atlanta. We got the people’s input; but what we did was a survey, and we got a good response.”
For more than 35 years, Emelda has called the Lafitte community home. She recalls, “It was a beautiful brick building. But then, as time changed, it began to get older and it was just deteriorating. Post Katrina, it was time to give us a new Jerusalem.”
“And what we have now…my God!!” she exclaims.” I like the cottages. When I came here for the first time I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ It was like in another world. It is gorgeous, and it is beautiful. As I said before, a new Jerusalem!”
Emelda’s role has continued to evolve and grow over time. She served as a leader of the residents’ council prior to the storm and once the newly redeveloped Faubourg Lafitte opened, Emelda served as president of the Faubourg Lafitte Tenants Association. Emelda has also served on the Providence Community Housing board of directors. After completing multiple terms, she is now a member of the Providence Community Housing Advisory Council.