Katie Anderson, who was hired in 2011 to clean up Walter Guillory’s mess at the troubled Lafayette Housing Authority and was suddenly dismissed at the expiration of her contract on May 31, recently received the Charles L. Farris Award from the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials.
On June 29 at NAHRO’s Southwest Regional Council meeting in Kansas City, Mo., Anderson’s long career in housing and redevelopment was awarded with the Charles L. Farris Award for 2016 for “outstanding contributions toward improving the quality of life in the southwest region, and of unsparing service to NAHRO at the local, state, regional and national levels.”
The award again raises questions about why Anderson, who is widely regarded among her peers as an excellent administrator, was fired without explanation from the local housing authority board.
In March, Anderson was informed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that her contract would not be renewed at LHA, which remains under HUD receivership after financial mismanagement led to the dismissal and subsequent conviction of its former director, Guillory, on bribery and bid-fixing charges. Anderson had been working on an annual contract.
HUD spokeswoman Patricia Campbell had little say about the decision to not renew Anderson’s contract, other than to indicate that a national search for a permanent director would soon begin in hopes of having a new director in place by the time Anderson left. "The goal would be to complete the selection process by the contract expiration date," Campbell told The Independent in a written statement at that time. "The Mayor/President of Lafayette has been informed of the decision and, should the resolution be approved, he or his designated representative will participate on the selection panel. The Mayor has agreed to appoint a new HACL Board of Commissioners by the end of March."
After initially declining to release the names of the board members he planned to appoint, Mayor-President Joel Robideaux confirmed on May 20 (immediately after The IND submitted a public records request) who he was recommending to serve on an advisory board to the LHA:
• Mark Becnel, Employee Management Solutions, owner
• Kim Boudreaux, Catholic Services of Acadiana, executive director
• Shelton Cobb, former member of the Lafayette Parish School Board
• Monica Gibbs, Department of Health and Hospitals/Office of Public Health, retired
• Polly Williams, Lafayette Parish School System, reading tutor
Three days later, on May 23, The IND submitted a Freedom of Information Request to HUD for the names of the applicants for the local housing authority executive director's position. That request has yet to be fulfilled, despite repeated inquiries to spokeswoman Campbell about its status.
The IND has since learned that Anderson did apply for her old position with the LHA. She's been gone for more than a month now, and no replacement has been named.
Anderson spent most of her career in housing and redevelopment in Louisiana going back to the early 1980s, including a 19-year tenure as the executive director of the DeRidder Housing Authority. She has served on numerous committees at both the state, regional and national level for NAHRO, is a past president of both the Louisiana Housing Council and Southwest NAHRO, and she served on the NAHRO Board of Governors for five years. She has since moved on to Temple, Texas, where she is the housing director for the Central Texas Council of Governments.