Updated: Aug 29, 2019
By Joe Morey
The LCO Housing Authority held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, August 20, at a residence on Water Tower Lane on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation for the rehabilitation of 36 homes set to begin in mid-September and be completed by December of 2020.
On April 3, 2019 the Housing Authority was notified by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) that it was awarded another Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) project.
LCO Housing Authority Director Mark Montano said the project will consist of complete rehabilitation of 36 units originally built from 1971 and later that are located in the New Post, Reserve, Bacon Strip, Water Tower, Round Lake, Schoolhouse, Signor and Six Mile communities.
“For this project the Housing Authority desired to perform rehabilitation work on some of the first homes built here at LCO,” Montano said. “These homes are the oldest of the old which may make this the most important project yet.”
Montano said he felt for the people of these homes. “They would drive to work and see all these new homes while they were living in substandard ones, but we’re finally getting to these homes.”
The current 2018 LIHTC project underway includes 28 LCO Housing Units being remodeled from November 2, 2018 and scheduled to be completed by December of 2019. These homes were originally built from 1974 through 1989, and are located in the Drytown, Watertower, Bacon Strip, Bacon Square, Gurno Lake, Six Mile, Conger Road and Signor communities.
To date, LCO Housing Authority under these projects since 2014, have remodeled 77 homes. The mold remediation grant saw 21 homes and the first LIHTC saw 24 homes done, and Housing did four homes on their own, prior to the 28 homes being done under the current project.
The newest WHEDA award will make a total of 113 homes rehabilitated by the end of 2020.
For the new project, Montano said they will be keeping the same team together responsible for the 2018 project. He noted it helps keep the project flow smoothly. The team includes general contractor, Woodstone, Inc, RT Hawk Housing Alliance, LLC, Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, Inc, and LCO Development.
Over the course of the projects, Montano stated there will be an injection of revenue totaling $7.7 million into the LCO Community from this new project and the 2018 project had an injection of $6.6 million . He also said the projects are employing over 90% tribal members for construction.
“We’ve submitted another grant for an additional 31 homes. We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Montano said. He explained this would be a grant and not a tax credit project.
A gathering of all the parties involved took place prior to the groundbreaking at the Sevenwinds Casino buffet. The meeting was attended by members of the LCO TGB, the LCO Housing Board of Directors and Housing staff.
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge thanked all those involved in the project.
“It’s important we have healthy homes. Our population is growing and we need all the help we can get,” Gouge said. “We appreciate what you are doing for our tribe.”
LCO Secretary-Treasurer said it’s phenomenal all the work the team has put into these homes. “When talking to the people who are in these new homes, they are very happy with what’s been done.”
Dianah Ton, the LCO Housing Board of Directors chairperson said, “When you drive through the neighborhoods, it’s just unbelievable how good it looks. You’re doing a great job.”
Karen Breit, a member of the Housing board, stated her gratitude to be a part of the Board and to watch each project unfold and become reality.
“Our well-being starts at housing,” Breit said. “The new homes ultimately contribute to the healing of our people. I thank all of you for coming together and making this happen.”
Montano noted he has an awesome staff at Housing that help him keep pushing and make things happen.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today, and that includes previous directors and staff,” Montano stated.
After completion, the homes are like brand new homes, said one of the new tenants, Sharon Starr when she was able to move back into her home in February.
Greg Johnson, Sr. Project Manager from Woodstone, said seven homes are done at a time while the families are moved into temporary housing. It takes eight and a half weeks to complete the renovation.
“We have portable storage units placed on each site, so the families are able to leave their belongings there and only bring what they need with them. It makes it a lot easier,” explained Montano.
Each home has new energy efficient HVAC systems with central air conditioning. Montano said the central air helps improve air quality in the home with less humidity.
Rehabilitation work under the current LIHTC Project includes the following:
Demolition Phase; Removal/Demo of exterior and interior materials with the exception of acceptable framing, floor structures and roof structures; Removal of HVAC components, domestic water lines and related fixtures; Select demolition of foundation walls due to bowed walls and failing block.
Reconstruction Phase; Select homes will receive exterior foundational waterproofing and drain tile; Installation of an egress window in all basements; Landscaping to improve water drainage away from house; High performance building envelope; Insulation R values will be increased from R-13 to R-20 on exterior walls and R-20 to R-50 in the ceilings; High performance siding; Metal roofing with seamless gutter system; New windows, doors, solid core interior doors, cabinetry and interior finishes; Upgraded flooring system; 96+ efficient furnaces, central air conditioning, air exchangers and new ductwork; Installation of new PEX domestic water lines and fixtures; Replacement of internal plumbing lines; Replacement of septic systems where required; LED energy efficient lighting; Installation of garages at locations where none exist; New porches and covered porches, sidewalks; Moisture activated exhaust fans; Commercial grade locks and hardware; Americans with Disabilities Act compatible upgrades in select homes.