HANO begins Iberville Project relocations - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

HANO begins Iberville Project relocations, softens policy on criminals

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New Orleans, La. -

The Housing Authority of New Orleans is taking its first steps to relocate hundreds of Iberville housing residents so that the complex near the French Quarter can be redeveloped.  And the outgoing director is also making it easier for people with criminal backgrounds to work on and live in the new units.

After years of debate, the 23-acre Iberville development is being rebuilt into a mixed-unit campus, with a third of the new units going at market rates.

But many are worried. They turned out in large numbers to express their concerns at a HANO meeting Tuesday.  HANO officials assured them that they are working with the residents to find new housing and promise that vouchers will be good, in spite of federal sequester budget issues.

"The first thing I want to say is no one now getting assistance will lose their assistance," said HANO Director David Gilmore.

The new development will incorporate some of the old buildings, with demolition set to begin in June.

HANO's director is also taking action on the housing and hiring of individuals with criminal backgrounds. "We probably had our first hire under the new policy yesterday," said Gilmore.

HANO will no longer automatically bar anyone with a criminal background from getting an apartment or a job and is working with the Vera Institute to determine new standards.  The new policy requires an applicant's record to be assessed to determine the risk that may be posed to the safety and well being of the community.

HANO says it's still got to work out some of the details, but the change in its longstanding policy has begun.

Even though the automatic ban on those with criminal pasts has been lifted, there will still be a review process before anyone is accepted for either a housing unit or a job.

HANO will establish a review panel to look at each applicant, with the final decision being made by HANO's chief executive officer.

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