Housing Authority of New Orleans asking for second removal of board member Sharon Jasper

Mayor Cantrell’s office said Thursday afternoon that the request from HANO had been followed through with, removing Jasper from the board.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 4:50 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Leadership of the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) announced Thursday (Dec. 8) that they are once again pushing to remove a board member who they say is inciting aggression toward other board members and staffers.

The first effort to remove Sharon Jasper, a longtime public housing advocate and President of HANO’s Section 8 Resident Council, from the board was overturned by the New Orleans City Council.

In a press conference Thursday, HANO leaders said Jasper’s behavior has become more extreme since June of this year.

On Oct. 25, a HANO board meeting devolved into a screaming match after a tenant went into detail about her alleged poor living conditions. The tenant called out a board member for not looking at her while she was speaking and the meeting went downhill from there. The tenant was eventually removed from the meeting, a police report states.

The report from the HANO Police was filed on November 30, more than a month after the initial incident.

HANO leaders say Jasper encouraged residents to speak aggressively. After the meeting, HANO President Carol Johnson requested Mayor LaToya Cantrell remove Jasper from the board.

“What was happening was Tenant Commissioner Ms. Jasper was encouraging tenants and public to come and make comments in an escalating fashion, as well as not allowing for proper procedure and process in making those comments and addressing people in a professional and appropriate manner,” said HANO Director of Communications Suzanne Whitaker.

“I started going out to different developments to meetings and seeing what’s really going on. What people were going through. They were telling me the house they live in, the condition of the house, and the maintenance wasn’t being kept up,” Jasper says.

She says she filed complaints with HANO and when those went nowhere, she would encourage residents to come to HANO meetings.

“That’s what the meetings are for,” Jasper says. “Bring it to the board. Let’s see what they say and how it’s going to be handled.”

“Rather than help maintain an atmosphere of respect and decorum during the public board meeting, Ms. Jasper routinely invited residents to meetings to express their hostility and their disdain for the agency and its employees,” said HANO Executive Director Evette Hester.

Mayor Cantrell did remove Jasper from the board, but the City Council later overturned that decision. Councilmembers took issue with the manner in which Cantrell carried out the termination, saying Jasper did not receive proper notification and that the administration did not cite specifics in its reasoning.

“She had not only not been given proper notice, she had been given no direct notice, which is problematic,” said Councilman JP Morrell. “The notice that was sent on [November] 17th, it is not sufficient to say, ‘neglect of duty and misconduct in office’ without citing what the neglect of duty or what the misconduct in office was.”

Now, the mayor has carried out HANO’s second request for Jasper’s removal. A spokesperson for Cantrell provided the following statement:

“This week’s renewed request speaks volumes and adds validity to the serious concerns raised by HANO, its employees and the Board itself and should not be ignored. As Mayor Cantrell eloquently stated, violence, intimidation and threats of any capacity, at any level, are not welcome and will not be tolerated by this administration. We look forward to continuing to build and work in collaboration with HANO to create even more affordable housing opportunities throughout the city that our residents both desire and deserve.”

“For the past several months, my team and the board have been publicly vilified - on one occasion to tears - and accused of various derelicts of duty without offering one iota of fact,” Hester continued.

“Ms. Jasper’s behavior was becoming more extreme and we had to protect the staff of the housing authority to assure their safety,” Johnson says.

Jasper says HANO has barred her from their offices.

“You’re depriving the residents of their rights and privileges, and me to help others,” Jasper says. “So that’s a standstill. If you’re about the residents and meeting the needs and concerns, why would you stop me from coming, from being in that office to support and help these residents?”

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