Good Neighbor, bad cop
This is one of the houses posted under the City of New Orleans "Good Neighbor" program. The city will confiscate posted properties if owners don't gut the houses and clean the lots. Some owners don't care about their properties, and let them fall into blight (demolition by neglect). In those cases, the city might be praised for applying a strict standard. There are a significant number of New Orleans homeowners, however, who can't afford housegutting, who aren't physically capable of doing it themselves, and who are still displaced far outside Louisiana (Ms. Regina, for example) -- I'd guess tens of thousands of homes fall into this category. Owners can show that they are acting in good faith if they get their home on a volunteer housegutting list, but those waiting lists are months long due to lack of volunteers.
The city's Web site makes it sound like it's offering this program as a gift to help homeowners.
City Offers New "Good Neighbor Program"
In order to provide all of the citizens of New Orleans the opportunity to rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives, The City of New Orleans Good Neighbor Plan has been developed to provide guidelines for the restoration and maintenance of homes in New Orleans. By strategically safeguarding citizen’s property while providing a framework for reinvestment that protects the financial investments of returning citizens against the spread of blight through inaction, the Good Neighbor Plan provides a better sense of security for all citizens.
The city is offering no help at all. Yes, do something about blighted properties, but do it in a pro-active manner. Instead, the city is leaving the rebuilding of New Orleans to volunteers and college students.
For or against the program, my sense is that the city's been talking about homeowners who don't gut their houses as though they're criminals, not victims, and that's what pisses me off. There might not be much that the city could do from a fiscal perspective (with an absent mayor), but it could be a little kinder in its rhetoric.
People interested in volunteering might refer to the city's pdf listing of volunteer housegutting organizations. You can also contact the Arabi Wrecking Krewe.
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