NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – About 100 public housing residents met at the Sliman Theater in New Iberia to discuss the future of their living arrangements.
According to housing authority representatives, if they don’t do something soon, there may not be a Housing Authority in New Iberia.
The agency’s checkered past has resulted in several bureaucratic measures that must be completed to pay for improvements in its nearly 150 public housing units.
“If HUD has a problem issuing the money to this board, why isn’t this board removed so the money is accounted for,” one resident said Wednesday.
Tenants were frustrated with the lack of attention from the housing authority toward living conditions, which contributed to the “troubled” status.
One former HANI director says poor communication between HUD and HANI is to blame.
“Regardless of what the conditions are with the limited staff, not having enough money to pay people to work- that’s not their responsibility,” the former employee said. “As long as they pay rent, they deserve to get the services,” Ernest Wilson, a 26-year employee of the housing authority said.
Chairman of the New Iberia Housing Authority, Fred Wesley, says despite continuous efforts to restore HANI’s public image and professional integrity, they’ve been met with adversity by the HUD New Orleans Field Office.
Wesley told us because the units are considered unsafe for people to live by HUD, he has been instructed to start issuing housing vouchers to residents, giving them 60 days to find a new home.
“We’re going to compile a name, telephone number, and address list for them (tenants) to start voicing concerns and let them (HUD) know they do not want to move out of public housing and the actions they are taking is unjust”, Chairman Wesley said.
The board is planning a rally in the near future to protest the closing of New Iberia public housing.
HUD Public Affairs Specialist, Scott Hudman, said in an email the following day: “We have no plans to evict tenants or put them out of the housing at this point. At no point in time have we ordered the Housing Authority to issues vouchers for their tenants. That is an option that the Housing Authority can entertain. We have asked them for a Plan of Action that is due end of July as to how they intend to address their deficiencies in housing, which are numerous.”
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