La. treasurer fighting for legislative change after housing Investigation

La. treasurer fighting for legislative change after housing Investigation
Published: Dec. 4, 2015 at 1:32 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 4, 2015 at 2:06 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy is calling for legislative change after a FOX 8 Investigation uncovered some people making six-figure salaries are living in public housing.

"This sort of thing makes victims of every taxpayer in the state," Kennedy said.

Kennedy was appalled after we showed him some public housing tenants in Louisiana making nearly $144,000 a year, over $115,000 in another case, almost $129,000 in another - and the list goes on from New Orleans, to the west bank to down the bayou region.

"These are very flagrant cases," Kennedy said. "I mean, you basically have hogs putting all four feet in the trough."

After seeing our investigation, Kennedy wrote this letter to his fellow board members at the Louisiana Housing Corporation which gives tax credit assistance to some of the public housing authorities in the state. The group doesn't monitor all public housing authorities, only the ones that get taxpayer money.

In the letter, Kennedy calls for change that will give the Louisiana Housing Corporation more oversight.

"We're going to try to strengthen up the statutes so that the Louisiana Housing Corporation has some jurisdiction over the housing authorities," said Kennedy.

Kennedy also wants those housing authorities to come before the Louisiana Housing Corporation to explain why they're allowing over-income families to remain in public housing.

"When they come to us for money, they're going to have to answer the questions then, and as far as I am concerned, if they don't have policies in place and they can't explain this, then I'm not going to vote to give them any money," Kennedy said.

Kennedy also cites FOX 8's investigation in his letter to the LHC board, saying: "This is inexcusable considering there are lengthy waiting lists for public housing assistance."

"I know what the policy ought to be in Louisiana, this is meant for low income residents," he said. "If you're not low income, you need to get out and you need to pay the taxpayers back. And the public housing authorities that are in charge of administering this taxpayer money - which is both state taxpayer money and American taxpayer money - are doing a lousy job."

We reached out to the Louisiana Housing Corporation today about this story. In a statement, the LHC Chairman Mayson Foster said:

"Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are funded by the federal government, governed by locally-appointed boards of directors, and the Louisiana Housing Corporation has no compliance oversight unless the PHA has received tax credits or other funds administered by LHC. Our compliance department monitors all tax credit properties annually for income compliance and other legal requirements. Year-to-date, 4100 units have been monitored and there have not been any findings of over-income tenants. 
For those families in PHA units that are over income and need to move out of public housing, the Louisiana Housing Corporation has single family loan products designed to assist with transitioning into affordable homeownership. LHC also has a network of homebuyer counseling agencies that can ensure that the tenants are prepared for homeownership.
The LHC Board of Directors can provide any guidance and assistance that may be necessary to ensure that affordable housing is used for its intended purposes. We are calling on mayors statewide to work with us to develop policies that will preserve affordable housing for Louisiana's most vulnerable families."

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