St. John Housing Authority working on its 5-year plan

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority shouldn’t have a problem meeting its deadline this month with Housing and Urban Development.

The Authority must submit its annual and five-year action plan to HUD by July 18, which shouldn’t be an issue after its Board of Commissioners approved those plans in a special meeting June 30.

Executive Director Trina Henderson said she is working hard to rectify years of mismanagement of the agency, and called the special meeting so the Commissioners could approve the plan before she sent it to HUD by deadline.

HUD requires housing authorities to submit plans each year that include local policies, programs, operations and strategies to address local housing needs and goals. The plan also includes resident services, public housing operations, financial management, capital improvements, demolition activities, Section 8 and other affordable housing programs.

The board approved the plans, as well as authorized three other actions.

Commissioners adopted provisions to revise and update standardized charges for repairs and maintenance of housing units, as well as authorized Henderson to negotiate and enter into a contractual agreement with New Orleans-based Spears Consulting Group for media and public relations services. The group was the lowest bidder of three who bid the service, and Henderson said to her knowledge it is the first time the SJBPHA has contracted for media services.

Henderson was also authorized to enter into a two-year contractual agreement with Yeager & Boyd LLC for professional annual auditing services for SJPHA. Alabama-based Yeager and Boyd specialize in contracting with troubled housing agencies, Henderson said.

“They know public housing,” Henderson said of the auditing firm. “They know the issues relative to the operation of a housing authority.”

Mike Lamb of Yeager and Boyd worked with Henderson and her staff on last year’s audit and was full of accolades for the 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 in January.