Kennedy Says Washington Bureauacrats Should Not Be In Charge of State Housing Policy

BATON ROUGE, LA – The State Bond Commission refused to approve and enter into a settlement agreement with the U.S. government that would have put the federal government and Washington bureaucrats in charge of Louisiana housing policy, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

“The settlement would have required unprecedented federal oversight of Louisiana housing issues,” said Treasurer Kennedy. “It would have also put the Bond Commission and taxpayers at a disadvantage every time the Bond Commission didn’t approve a housing project, regardless of the project’s merits or lack thereof.”

An item on yesterday’s Bond Commission agenda included a motion to approve a settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bond Commission and the City of New Orleans that would have required new federal housing mandates in Louisiana. Treasurer Kennedy objected to the motion, and following a roll-call vote, the motion failed to pass.

The proposed settlement resulted from a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against the Bond Commission and the City of New Orleans alleging discrimination because of a delay in the Esplanade housing project. The Commission and the City denied violating any federal laws.

New Orleans’s post-Katrina housing issues came to the Bond Commission’s attention in 2009 following a Bureau of Government Research report on the impact of multifamily housing projects in the area. At the time, the Commission placed a moratorium on all multi-family housing projects in Orleans Parish funded with CDBG funds until a comprehensive analysis could be done on the city’s housing needs.

Following the receipt of the comprehensive housing report, the Bond Commission lifted the moratorium and approved the Esplanade housing proposal. The project’s delay, however, caused the federal government to sue the state and the city.

If the Bond Commission and the City of New Orleans had agreed to settle the lawsuit, the federal government would have required a variety of new mandates in Louisiana including compulsory training for the Governor, Treasurer and Bond Commission members. The settlement would have also forced the City to create 350 new permanent beds in New Orleans regardless of whether federal funds were available to help finance them.

“Washington D.C. hasn’t shown us it can run anything right these days,” said Treasurer Kennedy. “I’m glad the Jindal Administration joined with me in refusing to approve this misguided settlement.”

Sarah Mulhearn
(225) 342-0012