Land Use

City releases HUD report, invites public comments

The federal government gave New Orleans more than $6.5 million to build or repair affordable housing last year, resulting in 63 rental rehabs and 150 blighted property renovations, according to the draft of a federal report released for public review this week.

Another 81 blighted properties were expropriated using the federal grant money, according to the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Draft Report released for public review Monday.

The city is accepting comments on the report through March 30. Here’s the report for you to download as a Word document.

The annual performance and evaluation report does not provide details about the work completed in 2009 though its authors do ask readers to “please note that various projects, especially housing projects, may presently be underway.”

The city declined to respond to questions about the report. When asked about it Wednesday, two days after a federally mandated public notice of the “complete draft” report was published in The Times-Picayune, a spokesman for Mayor Ray Nagin wrote in an e-mail to The Lens that “neither the Director of the Office of Community Development nor the Mayor (the persons listed as signatories on this) have seen or approved this report. Given that, none of the information here can be assumed to be accurate and you cannot assume that it would appear under their signature. A decision to publish this would mean that you are knowingly publishing information that may be inaccurate.”

After The Lens explained to Ross that the city actually published the information already, he responded that the information was accurate as of the date it was submitted for the draft report, but subject to change. He didn’t say when the information was submitted.

CDBG and HOME funds are awarded by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department annually according to federal formulas based on poverty, population and housing data. HUD can rescind commitments if local governments don’t complete projects in a reasonable amount of time. In total, the city received a total of $28 million in non-disaster entitlement grants from HUD in 2009. Affordable housing is just one of the uses for the money. Grants given through other HUD programs fund social services, including early childhood and after-school programs, counseling services and home care for the elderly or people with HIV and AIDS. The report outlines the spending of nearly all $28 million.

HUD requires all cities that receive such money to complete the annual review. New Orleans’ is due March 31. Federal law mandates a 15-day public review period so citizens can submit comments, which are included in the final report.

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