Foot In Mouth Derails GMF Bond Request
The state Bond Commission met Thursday, and the most-debated agenda item was a request for $24.5 million from Memphis-based Global Ministries Foundation. The religious non-profit is trying to buy the Hidden Lakes Apartments in New Orleans-East, which it already manages. Area residents delivered their objections to the proposal.
“We’re not in opposition to this property being sold to a worthy buyer,” stated Joan Heisser, a member of the Eastern New Orleans Civic Association. “This is just not the buyer we think is best for our community.”
Professor Beverly Wright was less diplomatic.
“You say you are Christians and you are doing all of this to save the poor black people, when what you’re actually doing is to make money off of a project,” Wright said.
Pearl Cantrell was blunt.
“Rev. Hamlet (the CEO of Global Ministries) and GMF are slumlords -- only out to make millions on the backs of poor people by taking taxpayers’ money,” Cantrell told the Bond Commission.
As previously reported here, GMF has problems with similar housing in Florida and Memphis, Tennessee, and is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some of the opponents to the bond measure brought up recent crimes at Hidden Lakes. Patrick Coffey, the property manager, acknowledged there are problems.
“There was a 7-year-old girl who was raped at Hidden Lakes, over the past two weeks or so,” Coffey admitted. “There was a murder at Hidden Lakes Apartments over the past two weeks. Can I stop people from perpetrating these acts? No, not unless we wanna really wall the place up and control the inmates.”
There was a collective gasp from the audience and the commissioners, and state Rep. Wesley Bishop, who had already asked that the proposal be rejected, was outraged.
“I think you owe a tremendous apology to the people who live in the city of New Orleans for using the word ‘inmate’,” demanded the irate Bishop. “But at the same time you don’t have a problem taking those ‘inmates’ money every month.”
The Bond Commission apparently found the reference to “inmates” distasteful as well, voting unanimously to table GMF’s bond request.