Work is resuming on four new apartment complexes in St. Bernard Parish after a federal judgment threatened to fine the parish government up to $50,000 per day as long as the projects are idle.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan issued her edict Friday within hours of Parish President Craig Taffaro’s cease and desist order that stopped all contractors and subcontractors from working on the four Provident Realty apartment complexes because they didn’t have proper parish permits. Taffaro responded Saturday with an announcement that he was rescinding his order.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Taffaro has attempted to stop Provident Realty, arguing the construction of new apartments would have a negative impact on existing rental housing stock. Fair housing advocates insist the parish president is attempting to drive out and prevent low-income residents from living in St. Bernard.
Taffaro had filed for an emergency injunction in state district court to halt work at the Provident sites. A hearing on that injunction was scheduled for Friday but was canceled after Provident and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center went to federal court to prevent the parish president’s maneuver.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has also weighed in favor of Provident Realty building the new complexes. Last week, the St. Bernard Parish Council repealed ordinances restricting multi-family rental properties after HUD officials threatened to block federal money coming into the parish if the laws weren’t rescinded.
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