In The News › Editorial: The Blight Plague

Aug 24, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: Blight, Orleans Parish

Editorial: The Blight Plague

EDITORIAL: The blight plague
Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Orleanians need only to look around to see that blight — from before and after Hurricane Katrina — remains one of the largest threats to recovery.

More than one-third of homes in the city remained vacant in March, according to a recently released report by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. That’s by far the largest proportion of blighted homes of any city in the country. Detroit, in second place, has 18 percent blighted properties.

The more than 71,000 unoccupied homes the report cites should be an alarm for the Nagin administration and for state officials to step up much-publicized anti-blight efforts that so far have had very limited effects.

Chief among them is for the city to finally make good on long-standing promises to give the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority the resources it needs to put thousands of abandoned homes and empty lots back in commerce.

It’s been almost two years since Mayor Ray Nagin announced a major revamping of NORA that he said would transform the troubled agency into a “huge” catalyst of redevelopment in many neighborhoods. The mayor then appointed several high-profile and capable community leaders to the board. But since then, board members have struggled to get the support needed from the administration and that has to change.

The city also must continue to ramp up code enforcement. Inspections were shut down for months while the city rewrote housing laws earlier this year and enforcement was limited to recovery zones. But even now some residents complain that enforcement has remained lax in their neighborhoods. And there also are blighted, overgrown lots even in areas where the recovery has advanced the most, and those should not be ignored.

As noted by Janet Howard, Bureau of Governmental Research president, the report on blighted homes in New Orleans is not surprising. But it quantifies a problem that so far has lacked hard numbers.

“It gives you a sense of the enormity of the problem,” Ms. Howard said. “The question is what we’re going to do to address it.” City Hall needs to start yielding answers soon.

Aug 24, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: Blight, Orleans Parish

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