Housing authority using grant to increase patrols

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2011



LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority is utilizing money from a 2009 capital fund grant to help pay for extra Sheriff’s Office patrols through parish housing units, in addition to some much needed maintenance.

Interim Executive Director Cindy Johnson said the grant, acquired through the U.S. Department of Urban Development, will allow the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office to perform four-hour blocks of patrols several times a week through the parish’s four housing developments in LaPlace, Reserve, Garyville and Edgard. The Sheriff’s Office will be paid $25 an hour through the grant.

In addition to the routine patrols, Johnson said deputies will be setting up occasional checkpoints at the entrance to the developments to monitor who is arriving. She said a few of the developments have had problems with non-residents coming in and causing problems. Sheriff’s deputies recently arrested a suspect in a killing in Reserve who was hiding out in one of the housing authority’s units, Johnson said.

The agreement with the Sheriff’s Office should be signed this week. The Sheriff’s Office will then set up a schedule for the patrols, said Johnson.

The Housing Authority has had additional patrols in the past, but problems with regular payments from the Housing Authority dating back to 2004 ended the agreement.

Grant money will also help pay for outside maintenance at housing developments, including landscaping around the main office in LaPlace, pressure washing of units, installation of screen doors and grounds keeping. Johnson also said the grant helped the main office purchase a new computer and update its fax system. She said the agency also purchased three tractors so that in house maintenance crews could keep up with grass cutting around the units.

In other action, Housing Board Chairwoman Iona Holloway said the screening committee pegged with processing applicants for a permanent executive director has narrowed the pool down from 23 to six. She said the housing board will begin meeting with applicants as early as next week to further narrow down a selection. Holloway publicly thanked all members of the screening committee for their diligent work.

The Housing Authority is also working on an agreement to tear down a fire-damaged unit across from the agency’s main office in LaPlace so the land can be used for a green space for residents of the LaPlace Oaks Housing Development. Holloway said there are more than 200 children in the development who desperately need a place to play.

The green space will include playground equipment and will be designated a drug free zone.