- SMHA has, since its founding, made stewardship of rural lands and waters a key component of its programmatic activity. The organization’s long history of work with fisher families and sugar cane farm families, helping them to transition to more sustainable farming and harvesting methods, are only two examples of this commitment.
- Economic Development projects create millions in impact within stressed rural communities. SMHA knows that economic development is more than attracting "big box stores” or giving tax incentives to multinational companies. The organization is committed to economic development from the ground up. Its staff works with families and communities to make their neighborhoods investment worthy; places where people want to live, raise their families, and places where businesses want to operate and grow.
- SMHA’s work in affordable housing began in the 1970s. From its beginnings in farmworker self-help housing and owner-occupied rehabilitation in farmworker communities in Vermilion and St. Mary Parish, SMHA’s work has grown to include new home construction, first-time homeownership, and mortgage lending with reach throughout much of the state of Louisiana.
- Louisiana’s traditional family fishers are one of our state’s treasures, giving the state’s working coastline a distinctive multicultural flavor. SMHA believes this treasure will be lost without innovative approaches to making small-boated fisher businesses sustainable for future generations. As traditional family fishers are lost, so too are the historical stewards of the coast. SMHA is committed to making sure this important segment of the Gulf Coast fishery is not just preserved, but will thrive for generations to come.
- Developing community leadership and the capacity to make change happen are hallmarks of SMHA’s self-help approach to building strong, healthy and prosperous rural communities. In rural Louisiana, the communities most in need of investment are almost without exception African-American communities suffering from decades of deliberate disinvestment. These communities can only become stronger as its resident leadership, especially female leadership, becomes stronger.
- Protect environmental
assets, agriculture and land of rural communities.
- Foster economic development in stressed communities.
- Develop rural housing and provide homeowner assistance.
- Assist fisher families and work to protect their livelihoods.
- Develop communities by working with women and people of color.