Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thank God We Gave HANO the Go-Ahead

In another encouraging development since City Council approved demolition permits for four major public housing complexes, HANO has now determined it is unable to administer the disaster voucher program.

So they're sending that responsibility to Houston:

The Harris County Housing Authority in Houston will administer the Disaster Housing Assistance Program in New Orleans. Promising vast improvements that include getting payments to landlords on time, HANO formally approved the switch Wednesday.

Handing Harris County the job is no different than contracting out for grass-cutting services, HANO said.

"They've gotten this down to a science," said Dwayne Muhammad, a HANO administrator who oversees the voucher programs. "They already had an infrastructure. We didn't have the human resources to manage DHAP."

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The switch, though, drew skepticism from U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has become a frequent critic of HANO's efforts to reopen public housing in New Orleans.

"It continues to be a disappointment that HANO management is not improving," Landrieu said Wednesday in a statement. "It clearly was not up to the challenge to begin with. I hope that with Harris County overseeing DHAP that all New Orleanians will get the housing help they need. Long term, however, smart plans for affordable housing should be crafted by those with roots in our community."

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Also Wednesday, HANO approved the following awards:

-- $750,000 for a public housing software management agreement with Yardi Systems, an international company with corporate offices in Goleta, Calif.

-- $300,000 to the joint venture of local law firms Caraway, LeBlanc/Barry and Piccione/Bryan & Jupiter for "on-call" legal services in the areas of contracts and procurement, labor and employment, and real estate and development.

-- $157,000 to the Imperial Drive Resident Council for grass cutting and debris removal at the Iberville development.

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Feel free to de-isolate this story and put it in the same binder as all the other HANO/affordable housing/HUD/public housing/demolition contract stories from the past six months to ten years.

Now that the mixed income Disney World at River Garden has been deemed unprofitable, leaving a gaping empty lot in that community for the foreseeable future, would anyone on Council like a mulligan?

There are no mulligans when you've already knocked down hundreds of acres of public housing and rebuilt next to nothing.

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