Fox 8 Defenders: Measure to force slumlord nonprofits to pay taxes passes Louisiana House

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 11:13 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A measure that would force slumlord nonprofit property owners to pay taxes advanced out of the Louisiana House of Representatives on Monday (May 15) and next will be considered by the state Senate.

The proposed constitutional amendment still would also need the approval of voters. It was a direct result of our Fox 8 Defenders stories on the living conditions at apartments owned by a religious nonprofit based in Tennessee.

“I remember seeing some of the most deplorable conditions that I’ve ever seen in 30 years, broadcast on our news in the Greater New Orleans area,” Rep. Joe Stagni (R-Kenner) told the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans) on the House floor. “You brought this bill because of those poor people who had no recourse to the problems they were suffering from.”

The conditions Stagni described are the ones shown in our series of Fox 8 Defenders reports, chronicling problems for apartment renters at The Willows in New Orleans East, Parc Fontaine in Algiers and The Bellemont in Metairie.

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Hughes’ proposed constitutional amendment would force slumlord nonprofit property owners to pay property taxes. The Willows, Parc Fontaine and The Bellemont are each owned by Tennessee-based Global Ministries Foundation, or GMF Preservation of Affordability Corporation.

Because of its nonprofit status, GMF currently doesn’t pay a dime in property taxes. Hughes’ proposal would give local municipalities the power to determine if a nonprofit property owner should pay taxes. That would only be done if their property is considered a health or safety risk, meaning it’s been fined by code enforcement and the owner hasn’t made sufficient repairs or improvements.

“When I go home, I breathe clean air. I live in a place fit for any human being to live. And I simply want that for everybody,” Hughes told his colleagues from the House floor.

“I appreciate you standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves,” Stagni replied.

After a short discussion, the bill passed by a 79-19 vote. If the Senate also passes the proposed constitutional amendment, it could go before voters as early as this fall.

If you have a consumer complaint you’d like us to look into, call the Fox 8 Defenders, staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397. Or click here to fill out our online complaint form, which is the easiest way to reach us.

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