St. James housing still in trouble

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2001

Daniel Tyler Gooden

LUTCHER – The fate of the St. James Parish Housing Authority is still in the air as the Troubled Agency Recovery Center (TARC) in Memphis, Tenn. evaluates its current condition and whether or not it needs to pass over into receivership.
Though it has been rumored that receivership is on its way, the official decision from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has yet to be made. “The sand is definitely running out on their two-years probation period,” said Lee Jones, spokesperson for HUD.
“TARC is currently in the process of completing their review before recommending action to the HUD main office,” Jones added. When the decision is made, Jones expects that action will be taken quickly.
Brandy Hayes, housing clerk for the St. James Parish Housing Authority, did not know if an extension request had been made by the housing authority.
HUD would not be adverse to an extension, said Jones, but it depends on what is in the best interest of the residents and the taxpayers. “I dont think exceptions are out of the question,” he added, but asked instead if an extension would help.
Judy Wojciechowski, director of HUD, stated in a recent letter that “due to the Quality Housing and Work reponsibility Act of 1998, which requires mandatory receivership after two years of failure to escape troubled status, we cannot authorize and extension as we cannot waive the statute.”
What would result if St. James Parishs housing authority went into receivership, Jones was not prepared to discuss. “We prefer to cross that bridge when we get there,” said Jones.
Normally, when an agency goes into receivership, a judge will take control over the management of the agency, or appoint an independent party to management.
Jones did say that of the 45 or 50 housing authorities across the country that are in a probationary period, only about five are actually put into receivership. After theyve been reorganized, “all of those are usually put back into their own control,” said Jones.