“HANO suffers from a lack of ethics training.”
“Given the high profile ethical and criminal allegations against various past HANO officials, the agency’s employees have been poorly served by lack of ethics education and training.”
By Katy Reckdahl, The Times-Picayune
February 18, 2010
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development this morning issued a scathing assessment of the Housing Authority of New Orleans. Despite the 70 pages of almost unrelenting criticism, the introduction by David Gilmore, the leader of a new 12-man fix-it team sent to New Orleans by HUD, notes that there is good news within the bad.
“Based upon our experience working to rejuvenate troubled public-housing programs, it is our view that HANO is eminently ‘fixable,'” Gilmore wrote.
This morning, HUD will hold a press conference about the findings. Within the next few months, the report states, the agency will develop a framework to address the findings and move HANO to “full functionality” and back under the governance of the city of New Orleans.
Among its many findings, the report shows that HANO is understaffed in most departments, often with undertrained employees and relies too heavily on contractors to perform its daily work. The agency is also operating its programs without accurate data on the programs’ financial condition, does not have a plan to that adequately repairs, renovates or reoccupies units, rendering its lists of vacant units meaningless, since ostensibly all of them could be filled in a city with such an acute lack of housing affordable to those at the lowest income levels.
In general, accurate data at HANO seems to be hard to find. “In absence of good, accessible data,” the report concluded, “HANO has developed a culture that is comfortable with uninformed decisionmaking.”
Among other problems, HANO’s voucher department didn’t properly calculate rents, leaving Section 8 tenants paying far too much for utilities and rent.
The financial department is also a messy quagmire, with staff using three sets of incompatible software to deal with accounts, making it impossible to reconcile accounts and flag problems electronically.
The agency also drastically overspent. The audit that can accurately show HANO’s true financial position isn’t yet finished. But at this point, HANO is projecting a $6.7 million loss for this fiscal year, according to the report.
Read the Report
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information on Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana continuing to allow tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of mold toxins