Public housing

Houma social housing tenants displaced by Hurricane Ida are evicted

A judge has upheld the evictions of 14 families from a public housing complex in Houma that was badly damaged by Hurricane Ida.

City Court Judge Matthew Hagen ruled in favor of the Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority in the cases after a hearing on Wednesday, in which the agency said the August 29 storm made the apartments uninhabitable.

Two eviction cases were resolved out of court, one was dropped and three were postponed.

Senator Circle has 217 apartments for low-income families that range from one to four bedrooms. Almost every apartment was condemned in the weeks immediately following the storm.

Moved after Ida: Hundreds of elderly and low-income residents displaced after Ida damaged public housing complexes in Houma

Residents of this location and the 300-unit Bayou Towers public housing complex for low-income seniors received Section 8 vouchers that they could use to find alternative housing.

But officials said no Section 8 housing was available in Terrebonne or Lafourche parishes, meaning residents who want to use the vouchers would have to leave for other communities.

Hearings into the disputed Senator Circle evictions ran from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Several cases have been postponed until January 27.

Hagen’s decision requires most resort residents who have not yet turned in their keys to move out by Jan. 31.

“What I don’t want is people’s items being carried on the sidewalk,” Hagen said.

“We generally don’t mind people coming back afterwards to pick up their things, as long as it doesn’t delay rebuilding,” said solicitor Brandon DeCuir, who represented the Housing Authority.

Social housing: Housing tenants in Houma face an uncertain future after Hurricane Ida. Some buildings condemned, others probable.

Some tenants have argued that they shouldn’t be evicted because their individual apartments suffered no damage. These tenants are represented by attorneys Hannah Adams and Salyria Gumms of Southeast Louisiana Legal Serviceswhich provides free legal aid to low-income residents of the parishes of Terrebonne, Lafourche and L’Assomption in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Others have come to an agreement with the Housing Authority to move out without having an eviction on their record.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Senator Circle resident Glenn Picou said his apartment in Senator Circle had no damage and provided photos of the interior. After four hours on Picou’s case, the Housing Authority dropped its eviction against Picou.

“I can go home and relax,” Picou said. “I am very grateful to the lawyers and the Housing Authority for doing the right thing.”

Housing Authority executive director Nikita Gilton was called as a witness and said Senator Circle was uninhabitable. She cites lack of amenities such as offices and laundry rooms and staff layoffs that have hampered maintenance.

“We are unable to fulfill our responsibilities as a public housing authority to all of our residents,” Gilton said.

However, Gilton said she observed no visual damage to Picou’s unit.

Gilton said while the agency was unable to assist each tenant individually, it has contacted other parish housing authorities to see if apartments are available for displaced residents of Senator Circle and Bayou Towers. .

Other areas of the state also have limited Section 8 housing, Gilton said.

Cases set to resume Jan. 27 include one involving resident Sheryl Wallis, who is also looking to stay in an apartment in Senator Circle, which she says suffered no harm from Ida.

“It’s exactly the same as I moved in,” Wallis said at the courthouse on Wednesday as she awaited her hearing.