LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Housing Authority is retooling its application process for housing assistance after nearly 1,000 people came Tuesday to submit applications, some camping out the night before for a better spot in line.
The housing authority announced this week that it will now use a lottery system to award its limited number of new housing assistance vouchers and will accept applications over a two-week period by mail, email, hand delivery or the Internet.
City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux criticized the housing authority at Tuesday’s council meeting for not being better prepared to handle the hundreds of people who came to submit housing assistance applications Tuesday at the Domingue Recreation Center.
Boudreaux said that he and other city officials arrived Monday evening to find hundreds of applicants prepared to wait overnight and that the housing authority had made no provisions for water, security or restrooms.
“I personally felt they were treated like animals,” Boudreaux said.
City-parish workers opened the recreation center Monday evening to allow access to water and bathrooms, Boudreaux said, and staff members stayed on hand through the night.
The housing authority had leased the city’s Domingue Recreation Center for the application event.
City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley said this week that the authority will not be allowed to use city facilities in the future without a clear plan on how to deal with crowds.
“The way that they have it set up now is clearly not working,” Stanley said.
Housing authority officials said in a statement that the agency “regrets any inconvenience that the public may have experienced during our recent application event.”
“We believe the lottery system will make for an easier application process for our customers,” the authority said in the statement.
The roughly 940 applicants for housing assistance vouchers on Tuesday was 400 more than when the housing assistance waiting list was last opened for new applications in 2009, according to figures from the housing authority.
The local housing authority is now under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which disbanded the local housing board last year after a critical state audit found financial and management problems.
HUD officials have not given a timeline for when the housing authority might shift back to local control.