Legislation is advancing that seeks to tweak the makeup of the the board that governs public housing in New Orleans.
The Senate Local and Municipal Affairs Committee on Thursday agreed to send House Bill 690 to the full Senate for consideration, but Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said she expects further amendments will be made on the floor.
The Housing Authority of New Orleans has been struggling to gather enough members even to hold regular meetings.
Donald Vallee, president of the New Orleans Landlord Association, said the legislation also would help provide more “continuity and consistency of knowledge on the board.”
“Unfortunately, we have very little experience on the board,” he told the committee.
Under the proposal advancing, appointments would be staggered, an additional landlord would be added and a mechanism would be created for allowing the City Council to name an appointee if the mayor doesn’t act in 30 days.
A legal battle between Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration and the Citywide Tenants Association that has left the HANO board short two members and unable to consistently hold meetings.
Peterson said those appointments should move ahead.
The legislation, in its current form, includes language to root out conflicts of interest. Vallee said that the Landlord Association agrees to that.
“We just want some representation on this board,” he said.
Several Section 8 tenants testified during the hearing that they worried that the Housing Authority could be stacked against their interests.
“Voucher holders don’t have a voice on the board,” said Latoya Lewis, an organizer for Stand with Dignity and a former Section 8 tenant.
Peterson said she plans to continue amending the bill to address the renters’ concerns.