Lafayette councils debate using HUD funding for businesses or housing

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- The councils voted in support of the grant program.

Lafayette Mayor- President Josh Guillory is expected to speak on the grant funding during a 2:30 p.m. press conference on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

You can watch it live here.

ORIGINAL: The Lafayette City and Parish Councils debated over a million dollars intended to keep small businesses afloat Tuesday.

Last Wednesday, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory announced his proposal to use a community development block grant to supply micro-grants intended for places forced to close which have not received other government aid.

It was referred to as a chicken or the egg debate, and many people on both sides voiced their opinion if the money should go toward housing or toward jobs?

“We have a serious problem. We haven’t even started an eviction yet,” said CEO of Catholic Charities of Acadiana, Kim Boudreaux.

“We are struggling. We are trying anything and everything,” said spa owner Desirae Roberts.

Local mural artist Robert Dafford remarked, “We have all the same bills everyone else does.”

Each person agreed in the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is need.

District 4 Parish Councilman John Guilbeau stated “The big problem is we have $852,000. We probably could use eight million and probably still not make the impact that we really need to make on the needs in this community.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development provided LCG $852,935 to help with the costs associated with COVID-19. Two amendments suggested a split to give one-fifth or one-fourth of that money to housing needs.

“While we want to support businesses 100%, we certainly recognize that there is a need in the community for support for the people that are the working class that do work, but are having trouble paying their utilities,” said District 3 City Councilwoman Liz Hebert who supported one of the amendments.

The amendments either failed to get support or were withdrawn due to a new discovery: $200,000, possibly more, available inside Community Development to use for rental assistance.

“I wasn’t aware you had that kind of money sitting aside,” stated Parish Council Chair Kevin Naquin to the Mayor-President.

“And before today we weren’t either,” Guillory replied.

Community Development Director Hollis Conway said the money was dedicated to future projects, but he believes it can be better used now.

District 4 City Councilwoman Nanette Cook voiced her concerns saying, “I hate to rob Peter to pay Paul”

Conway explained, “We had to look at individual projects to see what are some projects that maybe we can push into next year and maybe hit them at another time.”

People came out with strong support against and for the full allotment, but with promised housing funding, businesses got this meeting’s full amount.

District 5 City Councilman Glenn Lazard voiced he didn’t feel his colleagues are doing enough for the poor. Both Lazard and District 5 Parish Councilman Abraham “AB” Rubin, Jr. were the only no votes against the ordinance.

District 3 Parish Councilman Joshua Carlson surmised, “If people don’t pay their light bill, they may be evicted, and that might be true, but I guarantee you that people will get kicked out of their home if they lose their job, and they don’t pay their rent.”

The Lafayette Economic Development Authority added $200,000 to assist special cases who might have trouble qualifying for the community development block grant.

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