Public housing rent will jump

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 23, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Several working families living in local housing authority units will experience a 35-percent increase in the rental rates they pay.

Trina Henderson, executive director of the St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority, explained to the Board of Commissioners at this week’s meeting that they were mandated by law to have increased flat rents approved by June 1. The board reluctantly, but unanimously, approved the new payment schedule Monday.

On Jan. 16, the U.S. Senate passed omnibus spending bill H.R. 3547, which requires all public housing authorities to set flat rents at levels no lower than 80 percent of the fair market rental rate.

Henderson explained working families who live in the housing authority often choose to pay the flat rent rate versus income percentage rate, which is currently set at 30-percent of monthly pay. The flat rent rate means the tenants are able to save up more money and, as Henderson said, move off of the system.

Henderson said “the higher rates will hurt working families and hinder their opportunity for growth” because they will be forced to pay more and save less. She said currently there are seven families living in the authority who will face these higher rates.

Henderson said her fear is that tenants will become desperate to maintain housing and choose to quit their jobs and stay in the authority, opting to pay income-based rates instead.

According to documents submitted by the St. John Housing Authority, under the new flat rent rates, a one-bedroom rate would increase from $434 to $586, and a four-bedroom would increase from $661 to $892 a month.

She said impacted families were hand-delivered notices explaining the rate increases.