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Housing Authority no longer viewed as ‘troubled’

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority Executive Director Trina Henderson received an email last month that was three years in the making.

For approximately 13 years, the Housing Authority was considered a “troubled” agency by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Assessment System.

Trina Henderson

Trina Henderson

The dubious streak was broken when Henderson received an email informing her the Authority had improved its Public Housing Assessment System score so much it was no longer considered “troubled.”

The Authority improved so much, Henderson said, it even received a perfect financial score and a perfect capital fund score.

The Housing Authority is now deemed “substandard” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The news stems from the assessment of the Authority’s 2014 fiscal year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014.

“Over the past three years, we have made it a high priority to improve our internal and external programs and policies to further enhance the quality of life for our residents,” Henderson said.

“We will continue to work very hard in providing our residents with a public housing system that we can all be proud of.”

According to a 2010 consolidated review conducted by HUD’s New Orleans Field Office, St. John Parish’s Housing Authority had been designated as a troubled agency since 2002.

Henderson said the Housing Authority received a clean audit with zero findings related to the organization’s 2014 fiscal year financial statements and federal awards programs for the first time in over eight years.

“This is truly a great day for the Housing Authority,” Iona Holloway, Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Chair, said.

“The last time that we received zero findings was in 2007, so we are so pleased to have our affairs in order.”

The Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Program was designated by HUD as a “high performer” by its Section Eight Management Assessment Program in 2013 and 2014.

“While we have a considerable amount of work to do to ensure our PHAS score continuously increases, this is definitely a step in the right direction,” Darryl Kilbert, Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Vice Chair, said.

“We did not get in this situation overnight, but we will work hard every day for the residents of the Housing Authority to move this agency forward.”

Last fall, the Authority, in partnership with HUD, released a request for qualifications seeking top developers from across the country to implement a comprehensive rehabilitation and redevelopment program for its existing public housing portfolio.

The Authority is finalizing all contracts to begin the initial steps towards securing a new affordable housing system for the parish.

“I am proud of the strides we have made over the past three years, and I am excited about the future of affordable housing in the parish,” Henderson said.

Founded in 1968, the St. John Parish Housing Authority aims to provide affordable housing to residents with low to moderate income.

The Authority is comprised of 296 units in Edgard, Garyville, Reserve and LaPlace, with approximately half the units vacant.