Three new houses are going up along East Washington Street as part of the first major construction project from the Metropolitan Community Housing and Development Organization.

Based in South Baton Rouge, the community improvement organization has been in operation for 15 years, officials said, but has focused on smaller beautification projects.

Joe Delpit, the organization’s board president, said Wednesday that although the community development organization started a number of years ago, it faded out for a while. However, he said, new opportunities and new board members resulted in more activity.

“We kept recognizing the need for low- and moderate-income housing, not only for people in the community, but people who want to relocate to the community,” said Delpit, a local businessman and former state representative.

Delpit spoke as the organization’s board, community members and elected officials gathered in front of the first three houses to be built through a partnership with the city-parish Office of Community Development.

Helena Cunningham, chief executive officer of National Housing Consultant Services, said the Metropolitan Community Housing and Development Organization received two funding awards to make the project happen.

The organization received $250,000 for predevelopment work — in this case it includes more than the six lots already purchased, Cunningham said.

In addition, the organization — with help from the National Housing Consultant Services — received $400,000 to build the current four homes, she said.

Both funding awards come from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program, a block grant to state and local governments to help build affordable housing. The money is administered by the city-parish.

So far, the organization has purchased six properties in the neighborhood — three of which have single-family homes being built on them, Delpit said. An additional house will be built on a nearby lot and two additional lots are available for future development, he said.

As the homes are sold, some money will go back to the organization to be reused in developing future lots, Delpit said.

“Our goal is to develop as much (property) as we can on Washington Street,” in a such way to concentrate the redevelopment and show the community the impact, Delpit said.

Mayor-President Kip Holden told the group that although this area may be one of the oldest sections of Baton Rouge, the redevelopment of new homes in the area shows a revitalization.

“For South Baton Rouge, what a wonderful time,” Holden said.

South Baton Rouge is the area generally south of Florida Boulevard and bounded on the east by Airline Highway, the west by the Mississippi River and the south by the city limits.

Construction on the three homes started April 19 and is expected to be completed by Oct. 15, said Norman Chenevert, with Chenevert Architects who designed the homes.

Each home is 1,300 square feet, including three bedrooms, and they are being constructed to be energy efficient, Chenevert said.

The homes will be listed at $110,000 but only low- to moderate- income families will be eligible to buy the homes, Cunningham said.

With the help of $50,000 grants from the city-parish to bring down the debt load, the money from the sales of the homes will go back into construction of future development, Cunningham said.