FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 1, 2007  

CONTACT: Lucia Blacksher - lblacksher@gnofairhousing.org, 504.596.2100             

FAIR HOUSING CENTER FILES CONTEMPT MOTION AGAINST HOUSING AUTHORITY

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed a Motion to Enforce a Consent Decree and for Contempt Sanctions today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New Orleans against the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), now under the receivership of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The motion is in response to HANO’s failure to provide updated contact information for former St. Thomas residents in violation of the June 2007 Consent Decree entered in the case Corner, et al., v. The Housing Authority of New Orleans, et al., Civil Action No. 06-10751.

The Consent Decree provides a preference for former St. Thomas residents at River Garden Apartments, formerly the St. Thomas Public Housing Development. A central provision of the Consent Decree requires HANO/HUD to provide updated contact information for former St. Thomas clients so that HRI/River Garden can locate the former residents and inform them of available housing opportunities at River Garden Apartments.

HANO initially updated the mailing information for only 378 names out of a total of 1132, leaving 754 names remaining without any update. Of the 1132 addresses listed, approximately 38% indicated that the individuals named still resided in the now demolished St. Thomas Housing Development. More than 20% indicated that individuals lived in housing developments that have been closed and vacant for more than two years. After GNOFHAC’s and HRI/River Garden’s subsequent requests for updated information, 605 names remain with no updated contact information. The failure to provide updated contact information is of particular concern since HANO has access to HUD and FEMA databases of evacuees receiving housing assistance.

James Perry, Executive Director of GNOFHAC, states, “HANO’s duty and purpose is to provide housing for indigent New Orleanians. The failure by HANO to provide updated contact information for these residents is a clear abdication of that duty, as well as its obligations under the Consent Decree. HANO’s failure is of grave concern because it calls into question HANO’s claim that it has open units at other developments and that it is unable to fill these units with HANO clients. The failure also frustrates New Orleans’ attempt to conduct an equitable and open rebuilding process inclusive of all New Orleanians.”

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What is the Fair Housing Action Center, Inc.?

The Fair Housing Action Center, Inc., is a private non-profit established in August 1995 with help from the National Fair Housing Alliance and a grant from U.S. HUD. FHAC is a private, non-profit organization that will work to further the goal of fair housing and open neighborhoods in the greater New Orleans area. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. 

The activity discussed in this email is not funded by HUD.