New Orleans paying to move tenants from dangerous apartments

May 1, 2022, 8:22 AM | Updated: 8:24 am

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans is paying to relocate all remaining residents of a bankrupt apartment complex where people said a landlord’s neglect forced them into unsanitary living conditions with rampant mold, rodents and a broken pipe that spewed raw sewage.

The rare move began last week and was expected to take about two weeks. After all residents are of the Oakmont Apartments, the 336-unit complex will be vacated and secured until code and safety violations are resolved, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.

“The conditions of the Oakmont Apartments have become unsafe and unsanitary for residents due to the owner’s neglect and lack of concern for his tenants,” Cantrell said last week. “It is imperative that we address this problem head-on and relocate the tenants to safe, alternative housing immediately.”

City Hall said it plans to put tenants in hotels for up to three months while “housing navigators” seek affordable apartments, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported. The Housing Authority of New Orleans and the nonprofit Unity of Greater New Orleans are among those involved.

Oakmont is the largest of five New Orleans apartment complexes that landlord Joshua Bruno placed under bankruptcy protection in January to avert foreclosure. Bruno did not immediately return a message to the newspaper last week seeking comment on the city’s move.

Bruno asserts he has spent millions fixing up declining properties, only to see the conditions get worse with the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Ida damage on Aug. 29. Bruno also blamed Fannie Mae for stalling insurance payments amid a foreclosure fight.

Fannie Mae has argued Bruno can’t be trusted to manage Oakmont. While residents live in squalor, he has transferred millions from Oakmont and other properties over the past year to various entities he controls, the lender alleges. Residents and advocates have urged U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill to wrest control from Bruno and appoint a trustee to manage them. A hearing is set for May 23.

Hannah Adams, a Southeast Louisiana Legal Services staff attorney, represents several Oakmont tenants and said all want to leave. She called the administration’s offer “extraordinary,” saying it provided “a full wraparound cushion,” including hotel stays, help finding a new home, a deposit and two months of rent to get started.

How much the evacuation plan will cost is uncertain. City Hall said it aims to tap federal emergency rental assistance money. Cantrell called it “not the ideal,” but better than leaving residents in Oakmont.

Adams said 100 to 120 residents had remained. She said homeless services organizations have been trying to draw squatters off the property.

The administration cited Bruno last summer for code violations at Oakmont. Bruno has appealed.

City Hall in February began offering relocation assistance to the remaining Oakmont tenants. Tuesday’s announcement marked a shift from optional relocation to a forced exit.

“People are being forced to leave because of Josh Bruno and Westbank Holdings’ history of negligence, not because of the city,” Adams said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Republican presidential candidates, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, talking with forme...

Associated Press

The GOP debate field was asked about Trump. But most of the stage’s attacks focused on Nikki Haley

The four Republican presidential candidates debating Wednesday night mostly targeted each other instead of Donald Trump.

3 days ago

Law enforcement officers head into the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus after reports of an ...

Associated Press

Police say 3 dead, fourth wounded and shooter also dead in University of Nevada, Las Vegas attack

Police said a suspect was found dead Wednesday as officers responded to an active shooter and reports of multiple victims at UNLV.

3 days ago

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilming...

Associated Press

Republicans threaten contempt proceedings if Hunter Biden refuses to appear for deposition

House Republicans are threatening to hold Hunter Biden in contempt if he does not show up this month for a closed-door deposition.

3 days ago

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., listens to a question during a news conference, March 30, 2022, in W...

Associated Press

Tuberville is ending blockade of most military nominees, clearing way for hundreds to be approved

Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced Tuesday that he's ending his blockade of hundreds of military promotions, following heavy criticism.

4 days ago

An employee works inside the Hanwha Qcells Solar plant on Oct. 16, 2023, in Dalton, Ga. On Tuesday,...

Associated Press

US job openings fall to lowest level since March 2021 as labor market cools

U.S. employers posted 8.7 million job openings in October, the fewest since March 2021, in a sign that hiring is cooling.

4 days ago

Megyn Kelly poses at The Hollywood Reporter's 25th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast, Dec. 7,...

Associated Press

The fourth GOP debate will be a key moment for the young NewsNation cable network

By airing the fourth Republican presidential debate, NewsNation network will almost certainly reach the largest audience in its history.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @iamdamonallred...

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.

New Orleans paying to move tenants from dangerous apartments