HUD chief says HANO is in good shape as it returns to local control _lowres

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- The Columbia Parc Projects in New Orleans, La. Friday, May 30, 2014.

The Housing Authority of New Orleans has managed to shed the "substandard" rating it received on its annual audit this spring after fixing an accounting error and correcting how it logs public housing occupancy rates.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development routinely grades public housing authorities on their operations, finances, capital spending and the physical condition of their buildings.

The local agency's new rating of "standard" is on a par with what HANO has scored since the agency was returned to local control four years ago after being run for years by the federal government.

HANO had an original score this year of 69 out of 100 points. After it made its changes, the score was bumped up to 75.

“Standard” is the second highest of four performance levels, above “substandard” and “troubled” but below “high performing.” 

Agencies that perform poorly get scored more often, and persistently low scores can lead to corrective actions or a federal takeover. Poor management prompted HUD to place HANO under federal receivership in 2002, an arrangement that lasted for 12 years.

The latest HANO audit did not allege any of the cronyism, poor bookkeeping or subpar building standards that caused the federal government to step in the last time.

But HANO was criticized after it submitted documents that presumed its new Lafitte and Florida housing developments were full when they weren’t. The agency also mistakenly attached one of the invoices for work done on the commercial portion of Columbia Parc, the development that replaced the former St. Bernard housing complex, to the wrong project. 

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA​.