Housing authorities divvy up $677,000

The Ruffin Housing Development may be sold.
(The Daily Review Photo by Preston Gill)

By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

The three housing authorities in east St. Mary Parish have been allocated $677,000 from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development for 2014 capital fund projects that cover the 540 units in the cities of Morgan City, Berwick and Patterson.
The Morgan City Housing Authority budgeted $193,536 to renovate four units at its Brownell site, Dianne Pace said. That is 47 percent of its $413,000 allocation. The authority budgeted $60,000 to tear down 12 units in three buildings at Brownell; $100,000 for operations, management improvements and administration; $15,000 for audit expenses; and $45,000 for fees and costs associated with things such as engineering reports.
The Berwick Housing Authority requested $145,000 of which it has allocated about $144,000, Clarence Robinson, executive director, said. Of that allocation, $93,000, 64 percent, will be utilized to renovated three units and a fourth unit will be renovated with reserve funds, he said. Those four units are the only vacant ones of the 128 units that are administered by the Berwick Housing Authority, Robinson said. He also serves as the interim director of the Morgan City Housing Authority.
The remainder of the fund is budgeted with $45,750 going to management improvements and fees and costs. The rest is budgeted for non-expendable dwelling equipment, non-dwelling structures and equipment and relocation costs.
The Patterson Housing Authority was allocated $120,551. Of that allocation $92,500, 77 percent, will be utilized to continue unit updates, Susan Mendoza, executive director, said. She said she expects to update at least four more units, possibly more.
The funds for the authorities will become available for use by May 21.
The four units slated for renovation at Brownell Homes will join four from the same building that are expected to have renovations completed this month and will be available for occupancy, Pace said.
An erasure board chronicles dozens of units scheduled for varying levels of repair at the Morgan City Housing Authority since September. Twenty-six units have been scratched off as completed, expanding unit availability and the ability to place families from the waiting list into housing. Since March 10, nine families have been placed into housing, Robinson told commissioners in the April meeting.
Pace said eight more units are expected to have repairs completed (four in Brownell, two in Shannon Homes and two in Jacquet Homes) by early May. The authority is working with the city to have some street lights repaired, she said.
The three buildings the Morgan City Housing Authority wants to demolish at Brownell are subject to approval from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.
“We have to prove what is more cost effective,” Pace said. “The cost of renovating them is too extreme.” The projects have been in bad shape and deteriorating the past 10 to 15 years, she said.
Pace said the last buildings the authority tore down took about a year to get approval, but the approval for the destruction of these three buildings is not expected to take as long.
The Joe Ruffin Development has been shut down with a fence placed around much of the property although the parking entrances remain open. With the approval of the commissioners and HUD, the property will be disposed of by sale, Pace said.
The Patterson Housing Authority attempts to modernize units each year with its annual capital funds allocation, Mendoza said. This includes installing or renovating cabinets, counters, vents and showers, she said.
“There are quite a few units which do not have showers yet,” Mendoza said. She estimated that number to be about 60 units.
While some residents continue to wait on updates, there is no backlog of repair requests there, Mendoza said. Major requests for repairs are fixed immediately while maintenance workers address minor issues within 24 hours, she said.

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