HUD investigators search offices of Kenner Housing Authority - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

HUD investigators search offices of Kenner Housing Authority

Updated:
Kenner, La. -

HUD inspectors arrived at the offices of the Kenner Housing authority Tuesday afternoon to investigate allegations of mismanagement and financial wrongdoing.  They are allegations that led to its being deemed a troubled agency.

"Rather than drag out for six months, we came in quickly with resources to try and get it rectified immediately," said HUD Regional Director Justin Ormsby.

A FOX 8 investigation into the authority revealed a number of instances of questionable spending and bills not being paid. 

Section 8 housing owner Sherri Gregson told us, "There was one tenant that I hadn't been paid for since August of 2010."

Gregson is among those who say the authority hasn't followed its own procedures.  And she says her examination of authority documents shows a laundry list of irregularities, including a policy manual that looks as if it were lifted straight from Nachitoches, Louisiana.

"The table of contents doesn't even match the page numbers," said Gregson.

HUD investigators say they are looking at a wide range of problems, from financial mismanagement to an operational breakdown which may be responsible for dozens of substandard public housing units.

There is much at stake for this troubled agency.  HUD inspectors say they will work quickly to try and draw up a plan to make improvements.  And if the right steps aren't taken, HUD officials say the Kenner Housing Authority could be dissolved.

"There have been all kinds of allegations of inappropriate behavior, and we'll be looking at those," said Homestead.

Many of the problems were pointed out months ago by commissioner Al Morella, who has been sounding warnings about financial mismanagement and violations of the Fair Housing Act for years.  Those alleged violations include bumping some tenants in front of others and refusing to evict convicts.

Morella said, "No telling how many laws broken, when all this comes to light."

Gregson wants her money.  "All of the inconsistencies I have experienced, there's no checks and balances, one person doesn't speak to another person," she said.

HUD's goal now is to come up with a recovery plan to lift the Housing Authority above its current "troubled" status.

Ormstead said, "I would be disappointed if it took longer than a month to have an agreement signed and in place."

Unless the board makes changes, it will be up to the current administration of the Kenner Housing Authority to make the improvements recommended by HUD.

There's a call for Mayor Mike Yenni to replace the director of the Housing Authority. Yenni has said that's a board matter, but others disagree.

KHA Director Claudette Raphael said she was in a meeting Tuesday afternoon and couldn't comment on the HUD investigation.

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