The Office of Community Development implemented a self-help initiative known as LaSTEP in 1997. The concept is for small communities to solve water and sewer problems through self-help techniques; i.e., volunteer labor. By reducing the project down to the absolute essentials and utilizing the community's resources (human, material and financial), project costs can be reduced significantly thereby creating an affordable solution. (Required savings of 40 percent in construction costs.)
LaSTEP stems from a national program called the Small Towns Environment Program created by The Rensselaerville Institute. The Institute which is based in Rensselaerville, New York and has a southern headquarters - TRI South - located in Austin, Texas, collaborates with state agencies to implement the STEP program throughout the country. For over 25 years, the Institute has pioneered self-help techniques for solving water and wastewater problems in small towns and rural areas.
LaSTEP was established as a small set-aside from Louisiana's annual CDBG allocation. It is designed to provide water and wastewater services to communities of low and moderate income residents who have not been successful in obtaining funds through the traditional CDBG grant process.
Eligible expenditures under LaSTEP include materials, engineering and inspection services, administrative costs.