Tenants of neglected New Orleans apartments get help

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Five New Orleans apartment complexes are in foreclosure, leaving tenants in homes in desperate need of repairs.

The New Orleans Tenant Rights Assembly met Sunday at Oakmont Apartments in Algiers to offer resources for tenants.

Oakmont Apartments tenants say their apartments are uninhabitable and they rarely see work being done to improve their living conditions.

“The issues are lack of repairs, mould, just recently we got to where we have dumpsters for our waste,” said Arthur Dales, who lives at Oakmont Apartments. “It’s a real mess.”

The apartment complex, along with the Cypress Park, Forest Park, Liberty Park and Washington Place apartments, is currently foreclosed.

The companies that own the properties have filed for bankruptcy, which tenants and lawyers say has left the apartments and tenants in limbo.

“Tenants say enough is enough. They have demands,” said Y. Frank Southall, a member of the New Orleans Tenants’ Rights Assembly. “They want the city to help them, so the city agreed to help the tenants, and so we’re here to talk to them about it.”

Tenants are now receiving assistance from the New Orleans Tenant Rights Assembly, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services and the city’s Office of Community Development.

The city’s emergency rent assistance program also said it would help tenants with moving costs and overdue rent.

“When I came across these young people, lawyers and others, I jumped in with both feet,” Dales said. “And I thought if they could fight for me, I could fight for myself.”

Supporters hope this event will spark change.

“I think we really need to address this issue, and we need to find the path that we can, as a parish, to get better laws on the book to protect people,” Southall said. “We need healthy homes for everyone.”

We contacted Joshua Bruno, owner of the companies.

Bruno said his mortgage company Fannie Mae refused to release insurance funds for the repairs.

He says he hopes the Chapter 11 filings will allow him to make the necessary repairs.

Additional information for tenants of the five properties:

If you would like to take advantage of the City of New Orleans Emergency Rental Assistance Program, call 504-658-4232 or visit the Community Development Office at 1340 Poydras Street, 10th Floor.

If you have legal questions or need help, call Hannah Adams at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at 504-529-1000 (extension 258).

You can also contact the New Orleans Tenant Rights Assembly at 504-539-4504.

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