Housing Authority officially welcomes new chief

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011



LAPLACE – The lack of a quorum prevented the St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority Board from having its regular meeting Monday, but the commissioners and residents present instead used that time to welcome incoming Executive Director Trina Henderson to the community with a small reception at the Housing Authority Office in LaPlace.

Henderson, who was the top choice of a seven-person community group appointed to help select the Housing Authority’s new leader from a pool of 22 applicants, told residents Monday that she has more than 15 years experience working in public housing agencies in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and New Iberia.

She said she is looking forward to working with tenants to turn the troubled agency around.

“This is your Housing Authority,” Henderson said. “It is your residence. It is time for us all to take some pride in this community.”

Henderson said change would be coming but also asked that residents be patient with the agency while she assesses the list of priorities.

“My office is open, and I want to hear your concerns and ideas,” she said.

“If I am not available, I will get back with you,” she added.

Henderson said she wants to work on getting tenants on board with improving the agency. So also said the staff needs to look internally to fix some of the problems that have plagued the agency over the past few years. The Housing Authority has been on the U.S, Department of Housing and Urban Development’s troubled list after an audit revealed poor accounting practices, lax rent collection and missing federal grant money of more than $1 million.

Also on Monday, the Housing Authority named and swore in two new commissioners to fill out the five-member board. Tennant Merkadel Cosey of Reserve and LaPlace resident Jo Maxent, who works for the St. John Parish school system, were appointed to the board. Cosey replaces tenant Clarence Narcisse, who stepped down earlier this year because of health problems. Maxent replaces Dr. Deshanda Firmin, who resigned last month for unspecified reasons.

The next Housing Board meeting is set for Wednesday, Oct. 26, in LaPlace starting at 5 p.m.