Mayor Nagin had strongly criticized WWLTV’s investigative reporting last week on the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership program. (see previous post) He had claimed that reporting was based on an old list of homes rather than a new list which Nagin claimed was accurate. And thus there really was no problem or irregularities.
HoweverWWL received the new list and continued its investigation which only raises more questions about the disbursement of almost $2 million in federal money by the city:
Virginia Dean has lived on Hollygrove Street her entire life, but was
stunned to find out a contractor received federal money for cleaning up
“I’m shocked. I’m surprised to see this. I don’t even know who these people are,” Dean said.
When asked whether, in 2007, NOAH contractors had cut the grass and
boarded up the home, as the list indicated, Dean said her nephew cuts
the grass and boarded up the house.
Also on the list is a house that should be down the street from Virginia Dean, at 1632 Hollygrove.
“There is no 1632,” Dean said, emphasizing that the address doesn’t exist on her block.
On the new list, WWL-TV found many more properties that didn’t appear
to exist. Right now, the analysis shows that number at 26. There is
no address in the Orleans Parish Assessor’s system for those homes and
a visual check by WWL-TV showed no available land where the house
should be located. But for the homes that don’t exist, NOAH
contractors charged the city, and ultimately the federal government,
$86,625 for the work.
Greg Hillman says the community group ACORN gutted his home on Arts
Street. But according to the city’s spreadsheet, a contractor charged
$6,000 for the work on Hillman’s home. The contractor also claimed to
board up the house and cut the grass.
Hillman said no one besides him has cut the grass at his home.
“I’m the only one.”
And more questions…
according to city records, the owner of a double on Toledano Street is
New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley. NOAH charged the
federal government for cutting his grass in the home remediation
program, even though Riley likely would not qualify under the program
which helped elderly and low income homeowners.
Supt. Riley e-mailed WWL-TV to say he “has no knowledge of the grass being cut by the city.”
Nagn had claimed there were files with photos that would “justify the charges” by contractors on the new list. However WWL found…
But the files
raise even more questions. Many of the properties detailed in this
report didn’t have any documentation. The list given to WWL last week
by the Mayor’s office had 870 different properties. After removing
duplicates, the number came to 838. But Monday, Eyewitness News
counted a total of 905 folders for properties.
Many of those folders provided little details. WWL workers inspected
about one-third of the 905. 60 of the folders did not even appear on
the city’s new list. 102 of the folders contained no pictures and only
15 of the ones inspected by WWL had both before and after home
photographs. WWL even found one photograph that was taken yesterday,
yet the NOAH program has been defunct for a year. One folder was for a
street that doesn’t exist: N. Conti Street. The homeowner listed in
the folder does have a home, however, on N. Tonti.
Though few of the files had “had any dollar figures in the documentation” the following informationraises the very disturbing question of whether it was a possibility that contractors may have received federal money for work done by volunteers. Though WWL did notexplicitly do so, it is a question to be asked given this…
WWL also found
businesses, Habitat for Humanity, Bayou Title, and a few churches on
On Monday, Eyewitness News found a folder in the city’s files, for his [Gentilly homeowner Larry Dupont] mother’s home on Sere Street. His mother’s name was listed on a sheet of paper, with no signature, but the home is on the Mayor’s list showing cleanup work done after Hurricane Katrina.
Dupont told a different story, saying a woman named Janet Jones with a North Carolina church group helped with the house gutting.
“Nobody from the city ever came to this property,” Jones said.
I hope (though doubt) Nagin will rush to call a new conference tomorrow just as he did after last week’s WWL report because he has some explaining to do.
UPDATE: The FBI, HUD and the New Orleans Inspector Generalhave launched investigations into NOAH