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Housing Authority applying for federal program

By Kimberly Hopson
L’Observateur

LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to begin an application process applying to the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, a groundbreaking housing preservation strategy organized by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to the US. Housing And Urban Development website, the Rental Assistance Demonstration program allows public housing agencies and private owners of certain at-risk, federally-assisted properties to convert their current assistance to long-term Section 8 contracts. Such contracts will allow owners to leverage millions of dollars in debt and equity to better address immediate capital needs and preserve these affordable housing units.
Most notably, the program would allow contract rents at 2012 fiscal year rent levels for all public housing applications submitted prior to the end of calendar year 2013, establishing predictable rent levels for both Public Housing Assessment Systems and financing partners. RAD is part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive strategy to preserve public and HUD-assisted housing.
“Because of shortage of federal funding, we’re looking at all avenues in which the agency can secure any type of HUD or assisted housing initiative to address our housing stock. Our funding is going down, and we want to hold to as much federal funding as we can,” said Executive Director Trina Henderson.
The Housing Authority held a public meeting to address residents’ questions and concerns about the program on Tuesday, Oct. 22. A second public meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the Housing Authority Office. Henderson said they may also add a third, informal meeting for Edgard residents in the future, depending on time and environmental constraints.
In other news, Henderson also revealed that auditors had recently completed the fiscal year 2012 audit and would soon commence work on 2013. Henderson mentioned that it would not be cost effective to have auditors peruse all 900 of the tenant files, a time-consuming process. The Housing Authority will take on temporary assistance to help bring the files up to date. Preparation for the current year audit will also be monitored, as promised in the corrective actions of the 2012 audit.
Assistance is slated begin in mid-November.