Tuesday, 14 December 2010 15:19

Jefferson Parish Council Seeks Housing Authority Probe

Written by Walt Bennetti, Publisher of ClickJefferson.com
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At the request of Councilman Chris Roberts, the Jefferson Parish Council voted to ask the Legislative Auditor to begin an audit of all contracts involving the Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish and the Housing Authority’s primary contractor, the Louisiana Housing Development Corporation of Shreveport.

The Housing Authority has a history of Federal investigations regarding complaints ranging from misappropriation of funds to improperly dispensing housing vouchers. The FBI investigated the Authority in 2002.

The Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish is responsible for the management of 200 properties, 77 apartments and over 2,800 federal subsidized housing vouchers. The Authority has an annual budget of $44.9 Million and about 25% of its budget is spent on “administration expenses”.

Councilman Chris Roberts believes those “administration expenses” are going to the Louisiana Housing Development Corporation and calls the expenses “an outrageous figure.”

“The Housing Authority administration seems more interested in awarding lucrative contracts then running a program that maintains a high standard to protect Jefferson Parish's quality of life,” Councilman Roberts said. “A ten million dollar administrative contract is excessive and certainly warrants scrutiny considering the links that tie several of their vendors together.”

The links the Councilman is referring to involve the Louisiana Housing Development Corp.’s Executive Director Elmo Frazier, the Housing Authority’s Executive Director Barry Bordelon, and Gary Lala, a former Housing Authority Board Member and now a subcontractor for the Louisiana Housing Development Corp.

Frazier is a large political contributor to Jefferson Parish politicians. He contributed $11,750 to former Parish President Aaron Broussard, and has given $2,500 each to Jefferson Parish Councilman Louis Congemi, Elton Lagasse and Byron Lee.

Bordelon and Lala served together on the Jefferson Parish Finance Authority until this spring and previously served together on the Housing Authority. Bordelon was a member of the Housing Authority’s Board for 14 years before resigning in 2002. He was hired as its Executive Director in 2006. Lala was a member of the Housing Authority’s Board from 1985 – 1998. In 1999, Lala was hired by the Housing Authority to provide investment services, at the request of then-Board Chairman Bordelon.

In addition, Lala’s wife, Judy Alack, is the owner of Paragon Accounting Inc. Paragon is responsible for reviewing the Authority’s financial records and filing its taxes.

By Walt Bennetti, Publisher of ClickJefferson.com.

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