Houma is one of the largest cities in the Southern Louisiana region known as Acadiana, an area strongly influenced by Cajun and Creole culture. Located deep in the bayou-complete with sweltering heat, humidity and swamps-this rural but expanding community is becoming more cosmopolitan, yet is still strongly rooted in its Cajun heritage and traditions. Many of the residents come from families that have lived in the area for generations. Houma, with a population 35,000, is about 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico and 55 miles southwest of New Orleans.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Some of the leading industries in Houma are educational services, health and social services and retail. The economy in Houma is strong due to its petroleum industry, and the community has weathered the effects of both the recession and the hurricane season. Despite the economic downturn, housing prices rose slightly and foreclosure rates have not increased. Major employers in Houma are Gulf Island Fabrication Inc. and Terrebonne General Medical Center.
Many people in Houma work on the oil rigs and in related occupations. Houma also is a base for the shrimp, seafood and banking industries. New chain stores and restaurants have also brought jobs to Houma in the past decade.
- Houma's cost of living index is fairly low; it ranks 81.1, with 100 being the national average. Homes and rental properties, however, are at a premium, in part because of the several thousand Katrina evacuees who have settled in the area.
- While home prices are low compared with nationwide standards, they are high for rural Louisiana, as are rents.
- Hurricanes Gustav and Ike caused more than $150 million in damage to the region in 2008; fortunately, this hasn't severely affected the economy.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Houma has a mostly urban population of 32,610 people. The city accommodates around 12,420 houses with 11,540 occupied. Renters occupy around 3,690 houses and owners occupy approximately 7,850 houses. The average housing density for Houma is 890 houses per square mile.
The city is somewhat walkable, as most of the grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops and bars are situated within a distance of one mile from the center of town.
- Terrebonne Museum of History and Culture. This museum is located in the Southdown Plantation House, a restored 1859 Greek Revival home that was a functioning sugar plantation. Some rooms display original furnishing, while others house exhibits on Native Americans, Mardi Gras, the sugar industry and other regional history. To raise funds, the museum holds the biannual Southtown Marketplace Arts, Crafts and Food Festival, where visitors sample Cajun cuisine and shop for local arts and crafts.
- Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum. Housed in a former barge warehouse, this museum is a tribute to area water life and the fish industries. The facility, which overlooks the Bayou, can be rented for weddings and events. The museum sponsors Cajun band performances several nights a week.
- Terrebonne Folklife Culture Center. Dedicated to preserving the area's culture, this facility offers courses in everything from Cajun cooking to duck decoy carving.
- Waterland USA. Houma residents cool off at this local water park, which features four slides that are over 30 feet high, a lazy river and a family wave pool. There's also an 18-hole miniature golf course on the premises.
- Shopping. In the past decade, Houma has become the retail center of the region. The recent influx of chain stores along Martin Luther King Boulevard has transformed the rural feel of the town. The Southland Mall, which has more than 80 stores, brings shoppers into Houma. The town also has plenty of family-owned stores.
- Houma has two public high schools: Terrebonne High School, one of the oldest in the state, and Ellender Memorial High School.
- Nearby Thibodaux is home to Nicholls State University, which has about 6,500 students. The school gets mixed reviews in the area; admission standards are low, but the school has some outstanding programs, including a culinary school.
- Houma is within 60 miles of the colleges and universities in the New Orleans area, which include Tulane University and the University of New Orleans. It's also 100 miles from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, the largest university in the state.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- High school sports are a big deal in Houma, especially football, and fans root for the Terrebonne Tigers and the Ellender Patriots.
- In addition, Houma residents are fans of the Louisiana State University Tigers teams, especially LSU's highly ranked football team.
- They also cheer for the local Nicholls State University Colonels teams; the men's basketball team has been especially strong in recent years.
- With New Orleans close by, there are plenty of professional sports to enjoy, including the New Orleans Saints (NFL) and Hornets (NBA).
The Houma Courier is the area's local newspaper.
Most stations in the area are broadcast from New Orleans via satellite or cable. They include:
- Local: 10
- ABC: 26
- CBS: 4
- NBC: 6
- Fox: 44
- PBS: 12
- News: 640 AM
- Country: 107.5 FM
- Christian: 1010 AM
- Rock: 106.3 FM
- Top-40: 104.1 FM
- Alternative: 91.5 FM
- Public: 90.5 FM
- Sports: 1490 AM