State auditor praises recent housing authority progress

Published 11:10 pm Thursday, January 30, 2014

By Monique Roth


LAPLACE – The most recent St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority meeting revealed good news for the once troubled agency.

Mike Lamb of Yeager and Boyd, the auditing firm that has been working with the Authority’s executive director, Trina M. Henderson, and her staff, was full of accolades for Henderson and her team.

Lamb said that upon his arrival the condition of the files in the office and the lack of documentation was the worst case of mismanagement that he has ever seen.

Henderson inherited the troubled office when she began her administration in 2011.

Lamb said at the meeting that Henderson and her team have made huge strides in their efforts.

“I can’t describe how much progress has been made in two years,” Lamb said.

The Authority came under fire last year when the Louisiana Legislative Auditor released an audit report of the St. John Housing Authority’s programs from the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012, that said the agency was “unable to produce requested documents and failed to comply with federal regulations.”

According to the report, the Authority was unable to support opening balances for cash, restricted cash and capital assets. Because of this discrepancy, the independent auditing firm, Yeager and Boyd of Birmingham, Ala., was unable to determine the accuracy of ending balances and issued a disclaimer of opinion.

Another productive discussion of the night centered on the Reserve development fencing.

Several commissioners were concerned about the condition of the fencing in Reserve, with certain gaps in the fence large enough for cars to go through. This caused serious safety concerns for children and fears that cars would be able to go in and out of the complex relatively undetected.

Henderson told the commissioners the Authority was in the process of getting quotes on not only the Reserve fence fixes but on LaPlace breeches as well.

In news that is sure to be discussed at several future meetings, a resolution was adopted by a voice vote of the Board of Commissioners to demolish severely blighted public housing units.

A total of 164 units are currently deemed as blighted and will be demolished as part of the Authority’s five-year plan.

Sixty of the blighted units are found in LaPlace Oaks, 50 are located in Reserve Oaks, 38 units are in Garyville Oaks and 16 are located in Edgard Oaks.

The unanimous vote by the commissioners to move forward in the process of demolition gave Henderson power to submit an Inventory Removal Application to the Special Application Center for demolition approval.

The next Housing Authority meeting is scheduled for Feb. 17.