WWL HANO looking to expand options to people with criminal records March 28, 2016 By Wynton Yates NEW ORLEANS -- The Housing Authority of New Orleans may be changing rules Tuesday to offer housing options to ex-offenders but not without pushback from activist groups. In August, Marlene Kennedy returned to New Orleans after serving five years in prison in St. Gabriel. "My charges were always shoplifting" explained Kennedy. After serving her time now she faces a different problem. "I don't know where I'm going to sleep tonight," Kennedy said. With nowhere to call home Kennedy is among the city's population with a criminal record unable to get placed in housing. Last week The Housing Authority of New Orleans loosened policies that were blocking ex-offenders out of public housing.

The New Orleans Advocate At activists’ urging, HANO revises draft policy on accepting applicants with criminal records March 28, 2016 by Jessica Williams The Housing Authority of New Orleans is seeking to extend a policy that would make it easier for people with limited rap sheets to live in public housing. The change would make the criminal background screening procedures HANO is proposing to use for its own units mandatory for the private entities that now manage a majority of the authority’s properties.
If the changed plans are approved by the HANO board, it would be a victory for activists who clamored for that modification last week, saying that an older proposal didn’t do enough to afford ex-offenders an opportunity to be reunited with their families.
  The authority unveiled the new plans on Friday, days after activists staged a protest in front of its Touro Street headquarters and filled every seat in its board meeting room at a boisterous public hearing. The original proposal, touted as a way to end barriers keeping many ex-offenders out of public housing, said HANO would weigh applicants’ convictions against a set of screening criteria for public and Section 8 housing. Depending on the nature and date of those convictions, officials would either admit the applicants or send their cases to a three-member panel for closer review.
Crimes that would warrant the panel’s review include convictions for armed robbery, homicide, kidnapping and several others.

Gambit I-10: Ten Things to Know in New Orleans This Week, March 29, 2016 March 28, 2016 1. Nagin subject of CNBC's AMERICAN GREED The CNBC documentary series American Greed has its season premiere March 31 with an installment titled "Ray Nagin: New Orleans Shakedown." The hourlong report, which begins at 9 p.m., will focus on Nagin's business dealings, including those with now-disgraced and jailed former tech whiz Greg Meffert. Also in the story: Stone Age Granite & Marble, the granite company Nagin ran with his sons. Nagin, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in February 2014, is serving a 10-year prison term in Texarkana, Texas. 2. Endorsements, and spoof endorsements "I am really, really irritated by these people who think they are smarter than the American people. ... I want to see the American people heard and I want to see Donald Trump president." — Former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, expressing his support for the leading GOP presidential contender. Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge-based parody website The Red Shtick (www.theredshtick.com) had a story titled "GOP Establishment Hoping to Stop Trump With Bobby Jindal's Endorsement of Trump." The spoof story quoted a Republican National Committee spokesman as saying, "We're hoping Gov. Jindal's notorious kiss-of-death endorsement will finally undermine Trump's seemingly indefatigable popularity." 3. A step closer to REAL ID The Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee last week approved Senate Bill 227, which would bring state identification cards into compliance with federal "REAL ID" standards, which have been in place since 2005 in an effort to fight terrorism. Previous bills have been attempted, but former Gov. Bobby Jindal and some Republican legislators fought the move, saying it opens the door to invasion of privacy. SB 227 would make REAL ID-compliant licenses available upon request, and has the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Louisianans without REAL ID licenses eventually will need a passport or other identification to board domestic flights and to access federal buildings. 4. Spring concert schedule overflowing New Orleans' spring concert calendar is starting to fill up as the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival approaches. The Roots, the long-running hip-hop outfit (and house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) will perform a guest-filled tribute concert to the late Hot 8 Brass Band saxophonist Clarence "Trixzey" Slaughter at The Orpheum Theater April 29. Warren Haynes, Don Was, John Medeski and others join a tribute to The Band's The Last Waltz at the Saenger Theatre on April 30. The Saenger's Jazz Fest lineup also includes a Janis Joplin tribute (April 18), The Smashing Pumpkins with Liz Phair (April 22) and Trombone Shorty (April 23). The Orpheum Theater has Chick Corea and Bela Fleck (April 16), The Meters (April 22), The Revivalists (April 23), Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. (April 26) and Galactic with JJ Grey & Mofro (April 30). 5. Big change for public housing up for vote this week The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) is set to approve new rules that would allow people with criminal records into public housing, which can be a crucial part of re-entry post-incarceration. Local housing advocates, however, fear third-party property managers and landlords may interpret the language in the measure as optional, not mandatory. The proposed measure, set for a HANO board vote March 29, allows people convicted of crimes such as armed robbery and murder to receive public housing assistance, pending approval from a three-member panel. (Currently, families with household members who have been convicted of a crime can be turned away following a criminal background check.) Language in the proposed rule changes doesn't make the rules expressly mandatory. Members of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, Stand With Dignity and Voice of the Ex-Offender, among others, are demanding HANO revise the proposed policy to apply not only to direct-run HANO sites but also to private developers who receive federal funding for affordable housing.

The New Orleans Advocate HANO unveils proposed rules on admitting tenants with criminal records March 6, 2016 by Jessica Williams Nearly three years after announcing its intention to drop barriers keeping residents with criminal records out of public housing, the Housing Authority of New Orleans has unveiled specific rules that will ease the way for less serious offenders. New policy language adopted in 2013 prohibited officials from excluding applicants based solely on criminal background checks, except when federal law demands it. The draft guidelines the agency announced last month, however, for the first time outline just how HANO and its partners will vet applicants with checkered pasts. Agency officials hope to present the rules to the HANO board of commissioners for consideration this month.