In The News › New amendments could affect city’s efforts to fight blight

Nov 4, 2010

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Blight, On the Ballot

New amendments could affect city’s efforts to fight blight

Thursday, November 4, 2010
By Monica Hernandez

NEW ORLEANS — Stalled by contractor fraud and still waiting on Road Home funds, Mary Hart is anxious to rebuild her New Orleans East home.

And on Election Day, she joined nearly two thirds of voters who helped pass an amendment aimed at homeowners who, like herself, have been displaced by disaster. Amendment 5 allows those unable to occupy their homes because of a pending appeal on damage claims to extend their homestead exemptions and special assessments for up to another five years.

“We don’t necessarily have the funds for all the tax purposes that we have to have in this city, and that’s a big help to a lot of homeowners,” said Hart.

But some believe the passage of Amendment 5 could actually slow the city’s beefed up efforts to reduce the number of blighted homes in the city.

“I agree with Amendment 5 in that there are some people who are still at the mercy of insurance companies and at the mercy of the state, but I also think there are some people fraudently using it, and I don’t know how we’re going to decipher the difference,” said Jackie Clarkson, vice-president of the New Orleans City Council.

The Bureau of Governmental Research, an independent, non-partisan group, said Amendment 5 affects a relatively small number of people who are still working to rebuild their homes. And they say there are loopholes.

“It relies on people’s good faith in many ways, and it also opens the door to, contributes to, blight by not giving people an incentive to get back on the tax rolls, into commerce,” said Janet Howard, president and CEO of BGR.

Meanwhile, city officials say the passage of another amendment could be one of their greatest assets in their effort to rid the city of blight.

Amendment 8 removes the requirement that public officials first offer expropriated property to the prior owner before selling it to someone else.

“This is a big win for the city, because not having to have the property, which is an imminent danger and a threat to public health and public safety, not have to go back to the original owner, who was responsible for the threat to start with, is a huge asset,” said Clarkson.

Meanwhile, Hart said she hopes homeowners are held accountable for blighted homes, so those like her can see the recovery of not only their own homes, but an entire city.

Nov 4, 2010

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Blight, On the Ballot

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